Hoppers so close again

Lewis Allen's last-gasp conversion attempt struck the woodwork
Lewis Allen's last-gasp conversion attempt struck the woodwork
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Luctonians 20 Preston Grasshoppers 12

Again Hoppers showed considerable promise at Luctonians, played some good running rugby but came up short.

Coach Garth Dew said: “It’s very frustrating as yet again we did enough to win the game but failed to capitalise 
on the opportunities we created.

“Our set-piece and defence was solid and I can never fault the endeavour.

“But in a tight game like that you only get a few chances to score, and we butchered two golden opportunities in the second half which would’ve won us the game.

“We must keep our heads up and work on our finishing, there’s a long way to go 
and all the signs are there to suggest we can turn it 
around.”

Luctonians were first on the attack and strong-running centre Alex Smith was held up over the line.

But experienced scrum-half Louis Silver opened the scoring with a simple penalty on nine minutes.

Hoppers continued to defend, albeit at the expense of conceding penalties.

But a mix-up at the base of a five-metre scrum gifted Silver the easiest of touchdowns, to which he added the extras and Hoppers again had given the opposition an early start.

But the visitors then started to get into the game and breaks by Phil Mills and Tom Hurst caused some desperate defence but failed to produce a score.

Then, as half-time loomed, Hoppers scored arguably the best try of the game.

Some neat hands on halfway and a strong surge and deft off-load from Matt Garrod saw Rob Bramhall fend off 
tackles to run 35 yards to the line and Lewis Allen converted.

Just three points adrift at the break and with the wind at their backs in the second period, Hoppers were very much in the game.

At the restart after some midfield exchanges, the home pack mounted some close-quarter drives and the pressure at last told as prop Joe White was driven over for a converted try.

Clean breaks by Allen and Hurst went unrewarded and things got a little heated up front and, on the hour, Silver slotted a penalty to increase the lead.

But Hoppers had the last word when a run from Cam Robinson was carried on by the ever-present Mills and replacement Luke Proctor leading to a sniping run and touchdown by Jack Harrison.

Allen’s conversion, which would have secured at least a losing bonus point, struck a post and bounced back, which summed up Hoppers’ afternoon.