Defensive frailties cost Hoppers dear in derby fixture against Fylde

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Fylde once again claimed the local bragging rights, despite a flying start by their neighbours, as Preston Grasshoppers proved all too frail defensively in the second game of the National League Two North season. (writes Paul Outhwaite)

Hoppers director of rugby Alex Keay made no bones about his disappointment regarding the loss.

“We had as much creativity as them,” he said, “There were good bits to our attack. But you cannot concede points so carelessly. They are long days if you can’t defend.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It’s all about line speed in defence, being in the right place, communication and making your one-on-one tackles.”

match actionmatch action
match action

Keay pointed to the fact that, despite victory at Tynedale last week, Hoppers have let in 79 points in two games.

On the other side of the coin, he also pointed out: “If you score 27 points in a game, you really should win.”

Other worrying factors were several important line-out losses, a couple of penalty kicks to the corner which missed touch and too many unforced handling errors.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Meanwhile, Fylde coach Alex Loney was very pleased with his side’s “big improvement” over last week’s home draw with Sheffield Tigers.

“With the warm weather, it was a tough game, but we got good field position and had some good moments,” he said.

The return of fly-half Greg Smith brought an extra dimension to their play and the Fylde scrum held up much better than it had against Tigers.

Hoppers had started in style, a cross-kick collected by Tyler Spence setting up the position from which Ed Keohane went over after two minutes, with Will Hunt converting.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But Fylde bounced straight back and a line-out take and clinical passing put Adam Lanigan over, Smith converting.

Hunt landed a couple of penalties, but the visitors claimed three tries in 10 minutes as they found increasing holes in the home defence.

Former Hopper Tom Forster got the first before the ever-elusive Tom Carleton bagged two in three minutes.

Smith’s unerring boot took Fylde 15 points clear, but Hoppers had the last word of the half when Jake Maher scythed clean through for a try converted by Hunt.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Amid the usual comings and goings from the bench after the break, Lanigan scored his second after good work by Ben Turner and Ben Gregory, and Smith added the conversion as well as a penalty.

Another Hunt cross-kick gave Hoppers hope as Ben Haigh claimed it and put Jack Lightowler in for a converted try, before Smith took his tally to 16 points with another penalty.

But Hoppers ended by adding to Keay’s frustration when they fluffed the chance of a fourth try whose conversion would have brought them two bonus points.

HOPPERS: Browne; Lightowler, Maher, Keohane, Spence; Hunt, Squirrell; Trippier, Wilkinson, Guest, L Procter, Naylor, Murray, Willetts, Richardson. Replacements: Rimmer, Parkinson, Dorrington, Moulding, Haigh.