Preston Grasshoppers 26 Otley 41: Visitors spoil Hoppers' big day

It was an unhappy anniversary for Preston Grasshoppers as they marked 50 years since their move to Lightfoot Green with a second home defeat of the season.
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Hoppers have shown they are quite capable of racking up points – 110 in four games – but are proving fragile in defence, leaking 156.

Director of rugby Alex Keay was disappointed and frustrated after his side opened up a 12-0 lead, conceded three tries in five minutes either side of half-time, cut a 19-point deficit to five, but eventually had to settle for a four-try bonus.

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“We are forcing things when we don’t need to,” he said. “We have got to build phases rather than throwing offloads.

Preston Grasshoppers were beaten by Otley at the weekend Picture: Mick CraigPreston Grasshoppers were beaten by Otley at the weekend Picture: Mick Craig
Preston Grasshoppers were beaten by Otley at the weekend Picture: Mick Craig
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“We have got to find some street savvy. We got caught out by opportunistic tries and we rested on our laurels a bit at 12-0.

“I am really disappointed at our failure to win a game that was in our hands to win.

“There are things we can address and change. The lineout is a work in progress, but our scrum got better as the game went on.

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“It’s disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. We are still scoring points and I’ve no doubt we will be fine and finish in the top half of National Two North.”

Hoppers ran in their first try after seven minutes when Tyler Spence scampered over from halfway after being set up by Ally Murray.

Things got even better when hooker Jack Wilkinson raced away from a lineout 40 metres from the line and Alex Ward added the conversion.

Otley fly-half Ed Crossland launched an impeccable kicking performance with a penalty, which presaged that devastating spell around half-time.

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With home centre Ed Keohane in the sinbin for a late tackle, Sam Waddington crashed over from a scrum on the line and, straight after the break, Sam Taylor added two tries.

By this time, Hoppers had lost scrum-half Harrison Moulding to an arm injury and fell further behind when Leon Mudd drove over.

The hosts refused to give up and claimed tries by Murray and Ward, both converted by Ward, to bring up the bonus point and raise hope of a celebratory victory.

Otley spoiled the anniversary party with a Crossland penalty and a late hat-trick try for Taylor, which Crossland converted.