Hoppers up to fourth place

Sam Kindred on the attack for Hoppers against Broadstreet
Sam Kindred on the attack for Hoppers against Broadstreet
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Preston Grasshoppers overcame a sluggish start to record their first home win of the National Two North season and collect their first five-try bonus point of the campaign, winning 32-13 against Broadstreet.

Hanging on to a 15-13 lead going into the last 15 minutes, they sealed victory with 17 points to leave the home fans wondering why they had taken so long to break down Broadstreet.

Head coach Garth Dew said: “We looked a bit flat in the warm-up and didn’t seem to be at the races in the first half. We didn’t follow our game plan and missed a few tackles.

“But we’ve worked hard on our conditioning and that shows when we get past the hour mark. With the impact from the rolling substitutions, we blew them away in the end.

“It’s annoying that we are still butchering scoring opportunities but at least we are creating them.

“Our backs looked slick and our scrum is looking strong, punching above its weight.”

Lewis Allen, appearing on the wing for the second successive game, picked up two tries, along with a penalty and a conversion, in what Dew described as “another impactful game”.

There was praise, too, for back-row forwards Chris Taylor and Jack Walker, centre Jack Ward and replacement scrum-half Sam Whyte.

Hoppers hardly got their hands on the ball in the first few minutes and were forced into some determined defence.

But offside gave Broadstreet fly-half Ben Cooper an early penalty, which opposite number Lloyd Davies failed to cancel out when his own effort hit a post.

Davies, though, was instrumental in the first try, a splendid cut-out pass putting Allen over for an unconverted try.

Cooper responded with a second penalty before stretching the gap to eight points with the conversion of a try by full-back Nathan Tyldesley following an interception when Hoppers were on the attack.

The home side were still making too many mistakes but a determined break by Davies five minutes from half-time put Ward over for an unconverted try to bring them back to a three-point deficit.

With a raft of changes on both sides early in the second half, Hoppers started to seize the initiative and a neat kick through by skipper Phil Baines saw Allen hack on and get the touchdown nine minutes after the break.

They had to wait almost 20 minutes to press home their advantage further, Sam Kendall scoring in the corner, with John Embleton adding a conversion.

A simple penalty by Allen made things safe and Kendall’s second try was the icing on the cake, after strong running and good hands by both Ward and Tom Hurst.

Allen converted from touch to complete a comeback which lifted Hoppers to fourth in the table.

l Vale of Lune lost their first North One West fixture of the season 27-22 at home to Birkenhead Park.