Hoppers stars get the ‘hairdryer treatment’ after loss to Otley

Garth Dew

Garth Dew

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Preston Grasshoppers received a well-deserved rocket from their coaching team after a second-half display which was as dismal as the weather condemned them to a sixth defeat, nine games into the National League Two North campaign.

Given the heavy conditions at Lightfoot Green, it was never going to be a day for sparkling rugby, but there was really no excuse for Hoppers’ failure to secure a third victory of the season after turning round 3-0 ahead.

Head coach Garth Dew said: “We’ve just given them the ‘hair-dryer’ treatment in the dressing room. Individual stupidity is killing us. There were so many unnecessary penalties.

“We’d have taken 3-0 at half-time but then the wheels came off when we came under pressure. The line-out didn’t function well but the set-piece isn’t the issue – it’s the basic things you’ve got to get right.

“The support play wasn’t there and we didn’t start playing until the game was gone. It’s going to descend into a very tough season if we didn’t learn fast.”

The first half was mostly unmemorable, but at least Hoppers went ahead after 11 minutes with a 35-metre penalty from Sean Taylor. They should have increased their lead from a penalty kicked to the corner, but the line-out ended in a knock-on to allow Otley to clear their lines.

The visitors’ scrum-half Steve Depledge missed a couple of penalties but it all started to go wrong for Preston right at the start of the second half. Taylor was forced into touch in the Otley 22 after a good break, and the Yorkshiremen swept straight downfield to create a comfortable overlap for winger Gareth Newman to touch down.

Depledge converted, added an angled penalty on the hour and Hoppers were struggling to make any sort of impact on the game, with too many handling errors and a succession of penalties from referee Jamie Leahy combining to keep them on the back foot.

Substitute Olly Yates must have created some sort of record by being sinbinned for his first tackle and Otley took full advantage of the extra man with a second try when lock Declan Dunn was driven over from a line-out with 10 minutes left.

Depledge converted and Preston were left desperately hunting the converted try which would salvage a losing bonus point. But the 14th penalty of the game against them ended their most promising attack and there was no way back.

Despite the general gloom around the clubhouse afterwards, there were a few individual performances to light up a dull day. Young lock John McKenzie and No 8 Luke Proctor were singled out for their “outstanding games” by Dew.

But the only other positive to come out of the defeat was that results elsewhere contrived to keep Hoppers fifth from bottom.