Preston Grasshoppers 22 Wharfedale 35: Hoppers' home struggles continue

Preston Grasshoppers’ quest for a first home win goes on after they fell off far too many one-on-one tackles to hand Wharfedale all five points.
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Their on-the-line defence stood up well, but four of the visitors’ five tries came from open play to leave coaches and fans equally frustrated.

Director of rugby Alex Keay said: “We look a decent side when we do the right things, but we can’t keep our focus.

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“Wharfedale are a good side and were a lot more patient on the ball. We didn’t dictate the tempo until we realised we had to run it.

Preston Grasshoppers were beaten by Wharfedale when the two clubs met on Saturday (photo: Mick Craig)Preston Grasshoppers were beaten by Wharfedale when the two clubs met on Saturday (photo: Mick Craig)
Preston Grasshoppers were beaten by Wharfedale when the two clubs met on Saturday (photo: Mick Craig)
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“I’m not too worried. Our trajectory is going the right way, but we need time to keep getting the boys to do the right things at the right times. It takes time to gel. We are not a mountain away.”

Hoppers spent most of the first 20 minutes under siege in their own 22, not helped by a couple of charged-down clearance kicks, but resisted well before taking a surprise lead.

Wharfedale suffered a blocked kick of their own, giving the hosts a position from which Jack Lightowler swooped on Will Hunt’s cross-kick for an unconverted try.

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However, two touchdowns in the last 10 minutes of the half gave the Dalesmen due reward for their dominance.

Missed tackles saw Ollie Cigognini romp over for the first before Rob Baldwin benefited from slick handling to claim the second, Sam Gaudie converting both for a 14-5 lead.

Hoppers’ scrum-half Rory Brand was given a harsh-looking yellow card straight from the restart.

Wharfedale took full advantage when they ran back a clearance kick, avoided some half-hearted tackles and sent scrum-half Ollie Riddiough clear for a converted try.

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Richardson surprised the Dalesmen with a try from a quick tap penalty, converted by Hunt, who added a penalty to bring his side within six points going into the last quarter.

More defensive lapses saw Cigognini score his second try before Tom Beresford crashed over from close range, Gaudie converting both.

Opposing locks Ally Murray and Elliott Stockton ended the game cooling their heels in the sinbin after a mass altercation.

Hoppers had the last word with a try by substitute Sam Townsley, converted by Hunt, leaving them frustratingly short of a losing bonus point.

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