It’s all gone South for Hoppers

Hoppers' director of rugby Alan Holmes

Hoppers' director of rugby Alan Holmes

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South Leicester 19 Preston Grasshoppers 0

Hoppers fell to defeat at Welford Road as South Leicester’s big pack dominated a match played in difficult conditions with a strong wind affecting the game.

The crosswind meant the game was played heavily in one quarter of the pitch as both teams struggled to get out of the corner.

But South Leicester certainly knew these conditions and along with their big pack, they had a very effective half-back unit, in particular fly half Ricki Aley, who played a very simple but intelligent game plan.

Speaking after the game a disappointed Hoppers’ director of rugby Alan Holmes said: “We made too many mistakes and didn’t convert our opportunities.

“It’s tough to say but we were out enthused along with being out-scrummed and it cost us as we had parity in the first half and then we had the wind in the second half but gave away penalties and possession.

“It’s very frustrating as we defended well and got into some good areas but just couldn’t take our opportunities when presented with them.

“We were missing a few key players that could have made a difference but I‘m not going to fault the effort from the lads.

“We are going to have to put in a big home performance next week against Harrogate and we’ll have a hard look at things during the week and press on as this is definitely a team capable of better performances.”

South Leicester controlled the majority of the game but things could have been different if Hoppers had capitalised on opportunities at the start of each half.

They did well to charge down a clearance kick in the opening minutes and forced a five-metre line-out, but after the drive was stopped, poor hands out wide halted any progress.

The hosts played the wind well and got their reward with the only points of the first half when Wesley Cope touched down a catch and drive.

Hoppers defended manfully as South Leicester could have had a couple of tries but their backs handling did not match the forward power.

Preston had the first chance of the second half after Ryan Feeney stole a line-out on their own 10-metre line and a penalty allowed them to kick into the 22 but Leicester resisted the catch and drive and won a penalty at the scrum to clear their lines.

The hosts crossed the line midway through the second half when a five-metre scrum was pushed over and scrum-half Chris Gibbs had the easiest of tries.

And when they turned over Hoppers with 10 minutes to go in their own half, a swift counter – led by Gibbs – put Gareth Kerr away in the corner. They had one more chance in the 22 but could get the try bonus point.

Fylde Hawks edged home in a close game by 31-22 against Preston Grasshoppers in front of a splendid crowd at Lightfoot Green on Friday.

This was a double celebration for the Hawks as they picked up Conference ‘A’ league points plus, more importantly, brought the Brendan Hanavan Trophy to the Woodlands for the first time.

Hawks scored five tries to ‘Hoppers three, featuring an outstanding hat-trick by Connor Wilkinson, and others by Alex Vowles-Bradley and former Hoppers first teamer, Phil Mills.

Skipper Tom Lavelle proudly received the trophy and Connor Wilkinson was named man of the match by Hoppers’ chairman of Rugby, Michael Bailey.

Honoured guest was Brendan’s widow, and their daughter presented the trophy. T

heir chosen charity, the Oral Cancer Foundation, will be considerably better off thanks to Hoppers great staging of the game and generosity of the packed crowd.