Preston Grasshoppers 46, Lymm 42: Try-happy Grasshoppers are the great entertainers

​​“You can’t say we don’t entertain,” quipped Preston Grass-hoppers’ director of rugby Alex Keay following a pulsating 13-try afternoon of seesaw rugby.
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Mind you, he did admit that heart operations might be the order of the day after his side overturned a 15-point deficit and only took the lead for the first time in the final few minutes.

With Storm Kathleen hurtling down the pitch towards the M55 end, it was always going to be a bit of a lottery, but both sides rose to the challenge to put on a rugby feast.

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“There were three or four tries out there that would have been top drawer at any level of the game,” said Keay. “I’m really pleased with the result – Lymm are not an easy side to play against.”

Match action from Hoppers win over Lymm (photo: Mike Craig)Match action from Hoppers win over Lymm (photo: Mike Craig)
Match action from Hoppers win over Lymm (photo: Mike Craig)

It wasn’t all praise, though. “We got naive at times on the blindside and sometimes gave the ball up too cheaply. But we didn’t panic and you’ve got to love tries like some of those we saw today.”

The win moved Hoppers above Lymm to 10th in National League Two North and Keay is happy with that.

The hosts had the wind behind them in the first half but didn’t make the most of it. “It’s bizarre,” said Keay; “it’s sometimes easier to play into the wind.”

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Lymm took an early lead when Hoppers lost the ball and gave flanker Harry Martin a clear run-in. Tom Shard landed the first of four conversions, but Hoppers hit back when Will Hunt’s kick, Jack


Lightowler’s carry and deft passing put Ciaran O’Donnell over. Once again, the home side were having problems at the line-out and one such error gave Shard a simple penalty.

But when they did get a line-out right and drove strongly, Tyler Spence went over in the corner to level the scores.

Lymm pulled away with tries by centre Jack Stride and scrum-half Callum Morris, plus one conversion, but Hoppers had the last word of the half with a splendid try – Spence’s 15th of the season – after a burst by Lightowler and a pinpoint cross-kick from Hunt.

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A flowing attack from Hoppers’ own half straight after the break brought a try for Jake Maher, but Shard replied with two penalties and the conversion of centre James Kimber’s try to open up a worrying 15-point gap.

With Lymm winger Patrick Jennings in the sinbin for illegally stopping Hoppers’ pressure on the line, Ed Keohane capitalised with a try converted by Hunt, but the visitors responded through winger Nathan Beealey’s converted try.

So Hoppers had another hill to climb and up stepped flanker Dec Norrington to bag his first two tries of the campaign within four minutes – the first a spectacular solo affair.

Hunt converted both to bring his side within a point and Lightowler’s late unconverted touchdown sealed a hard-earned five points.

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