Stourbridge 46 Preston Grasshoppers 36
Preston Grasshoppers headed home disappointed after narrowly being edged out of a 10-try thriller at Stourbridge.
It was end-to-end rugby in the opening exchanges, with Stourbridge taking an early lead through Nathan Geekie before Hoppers immediately hit back with a superb individual effort from the impressive Lewis Allen.
His mazy run through several challenges edged the visitors in front.
Not to be out done, the hosts responded minutes later with a solo try of their own, on-loan full-back Caolan Ryan sold a dummy before sidestepping his way into the right corner to shift the tide back in Stourbridge’s favour.
Ryan was the biggest threat going forward for his side and scored another halfway through the first half, before sealing his hat-trick and the bonus-point try on the half hour, as the hosts took a comfortable 33-10 half-time lead.
The visitors improved in the second 40 and got off to the best possible start, another dart through by Allen paved the way for Mark Murray to cross over, to narrow the gap on the scoreboard.
Another special from Allen soon followed, when he raced clear to finish off a fine move which started in Hoppers’ own 22.
Pete Altham then scrambled over to seal their own bonus-point try as the scores drew even close, but Stourbridge ruled out any comeback with a try minutes later.
Sam Russell grabbed a consolation try at the end but it was to be just one point to take home for Hoppers after a thrilling match.
A frustrated Garth Dew said after the game: “I thought the start was unacceptable. If you give that many points away at the start then you’re never going to get back into the game.
“I was pleased with the second half, where we came back, for a young set of lads. They could have capitulated under the circumstances. But we still conceded 30 points early on.
“We defended poorly, we let them win quick ball, we played with no width and once again it was a bad start, which is the most disappointing thing.”
Huddersfield travel to Lightfoot Green on Saturday and Dew at least took consolation from the fact that an improved second-half performance can give his side something to build on.
“We got the bonus point, which is the main thing. We would have taken that at half-time but it would have been nice to get two. It’s a massive game, Huddersfield are in a similar position to us but if we play like we did in the second half we should beat them.”