Otley 41 Preston Grasshoppers 12: Hoppers suffer a heavy defeat

Preston Grasshoppers were soundly defeated at Otley, where Alex Keay’s players were second best all afternoon.
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Ciaran O’Donnell had given Hoppers an early lead but the hosts adapted to the conditions and blew them away, with Harvey May’s second-half score little consolation for a dismal display on the road.

The difference in quality and conviction was evident despite the two teams only being separated by a point.

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Preston led after four minutes when O’Donnell showed sharp decision-making to snipe through a maul and touch down.

Preston Grasshoppers' Tyler Spence (photo: Mike Craig)Preston Grasshoppers' Tyler Spence (photo: Mike Craig)
Preston Grasshoppers' Tyler Spence (photo: Mike Craig)
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Hoppers seemed narrow in defence throughout the game and Clark Wells made the most of an overlap to score the hosts’ first points in the corner.

Otley took the lead in the 13th minute, Ryan Gibson powering over from a rolling maul.

The Yorkshire side opened up a 10-point advantage when Alex Johnson had the simple task of diving over with Hoppers’ defence again stretched.

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With the conditions continuing to worsen, Hoppers struggled to get any meaningful attacking play going which meant they went into the break 17-7 down.

The Zebras had Preston instantly on the back foot at the beginning of the second half, Tyler Spence seeing yellow for a deliberate knock-on.

Adam Malthouse capitalised on the man advantage when the hosts barrelled their way over from a five-metre scrum.

Hoppers looked dead on their feet, a heavy pitch taking its toll on a squad who are used to the artificial surface at Lightfoot Green, and Wells doubled his try count for the afternoon by latching onto a cross kick to score.

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Samuel Taylor, one of National Two North’s most prolific backs, showed why he tops the try charts with a mazy run from the right flank to touch down under the posts.

Although May gave Hoppers a consolation try in the 67th minute with a neat finish, hopes of picking up any points were long gone.

Taylor compounded their misery when he showed great athleticism to gather a kick and take his try count to 19 for the season.

Preston remain in 11th place but have crucial fixtures against fellow strugglers Huddersfield and Billingham in the next two weeks, which will ultimately define their campaign.

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