Preston Grasshoppers 44 Hull Ionians 35: First home win of the season for Hoppers

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In the words of director of rugby Alex Keay, Preston Grasshoppers finally ‘got the monkey off our backs’ with a first home win of the season at the eighth attempt.

A match featuring 11 tries saw seven for the hosts, who earned a four-try bonus point and climbed to ninth in National Two North.

“Our first half wasn’t good enough,” said Keay. “We were brilliant to start with, then all the bits that we have not been doing right returned.

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“We’ve got to keep working really hard, but we were so all over the place at times.

Preston Grasshoppers could finally celebrate a first home win of the season at the eighth attempt.(photo: Mike Craig)Preston Grasshoppers could finally celebrate a first home win of the season at the eighth attempt.(photo: Mike Craig)
Preston Grasshoppers could finally celebrate a first home win of the season at the eighth attempt.(photo: Mike Craig)
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Hoppers’ late agony

“We had a good first 10 minutes and a good 30 minutes in the second half, but a good 40 minutes in a game is not enough.

“The win takes a bit of pressure off us. We are potentially a really good side when we do what we’re supposed to do; do the right things at the right time.

“There hasn’t been a week this season when we haven’t been the better team for periods of the game.”

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Hoppers took the lead after three minutes when Jacob Browne offloaded for Tyler Spence but Will Hunt missed the touchline conversion.

The next two tries went to Hull through Sam Pocklington and James Thompson, Lewis Minikin landing one conversion.

Browne scored his sixth try of the campaign after good work from Scott Richardson and Rory Brand, but Ionians led 21-10 at half-time after Minikin landed three penalties in five minutes.

Straight from the resumption, Jack Lightowler scored a splendid solo try – his eighth of the season – before Rory Brand swooped from a scrum and Spence latched onto a Hunt kick to score.

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Hunt converted two of them and, after missing a long-range penalty, hit the target from 20 metres.

Ionians countered with a converted try from Sam Wilson, but Hunt and Josh Longson combined to send Ally Murray over for an unconverted try.

Spence then completed his hat-trick, Hunt adding the extras, but Ionians refused to give up and Joe Makin scored a converted try.

Nine points behind, the visitors had a late chance to salvage a losing bonus point but Minikin missed a touchline penalty.

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