Preston Grasshoppers 14 Leeds Tykes 45: Hoppers unable to halt league leaders

Preston Grasshoppers stuck doggedly to what was always going to be an uphill struggle against the runaway National Two North leaders on Saturday.
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Only a last-quarter blitz of 17 points gave Leeds the sort of winning margin they have become used to in their 19 successive victories.

Hoppers’ director of rugby, Alex Keay, said: “We had them rattled for a long while but they are a well-drilled side who keep their shape, which we don’t always do.

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“Leeds were the fitter side and are miles ahead of the rest of the league.

Preston Grasshoppers lost against Leeds Tykes on Saturday (photo: Mike Craig)Preston Grasshoppers lost against Leeds Tykes on Saturday (photo: Mike Craig)
Preston Grasshoppers lost against Leeds Tykes on Saturday (photo: Mike Craig)
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“Some of our players believed we could beat them, but not all of them did.”

Not for the first time, Hoppers’ midfield tackling let them down despite the usual resolute try-line defence, while the lineout remains a worry.

Keay added: “People don’t do what they’re supposed to and it’s getting a little frustrating.

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“We’re on the right road but it’s a long road. We’ve just got to get back on the horse, as they say, next week.”

Hoppers were penned in their own 22 for the first 10 minutes, lost Josh Longson to a ligament injury and conceded the first try when the Tykes opted to take scrums after a couple of penalties.

They created space out wide for Ben Turpin to score, with Kieran Davies converting.

The home side’s first penalty only came after 18 minutes and they were unable to get the ball down from the ensuing lineout drive.

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Soon afterwards, a skilful 50/22 kick gave Leeds the platform to drive Adam Brown over for a converted try.

Hoppers hit straight back and Rory Brand broke well for a solo try, converted by Will Hunt.

Textbook handling down the line brought the Tykes a converted try by Ewan Evans before another seven-point score from Ben Dixon made it 28-7.

Hoppers raised their fans’ hopes on the stroke of half-time when Jack Lightowler scored his 10th try of the campaign, converted by Hunt.

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Despite the pouring rain, both sides tried to keep the rugby flowing in the second half and Hoppers resisted stoutly for the best part of 30 minutes.

The pressure eventually told with converted tries from Aaron Yorke and Seremaia Turagabeci.

The impeccable Davies rounded off a man-of-the match display with a snap drop goal.

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