Preston Grasshoppers 6 Fylde 22: Hoppers subdued as derby returns

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Fylde made the short trip down the M55 for a welcome resumption of their long-established rivalry with near neighbours Preston Grasshoppers on Saturday.

As in the previous home win over Chester, Fylde never quite hit the performance levels they are capable of.

They did, however, manage to subdue a resolute Hoppers team and pick up their second bonus point win of the season as they won by four tries to nil.

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In only the 5th minute of the game, referee Ben Davis yellow carded the Hoppers wing forward Sam Gale for a swinging arm in the tackle.

Preston Grasshoppers v Fylde. Photo Neil Cross;Preston Grasshoppers v Fylde. Photo Neil Cross;
Preston Grasshoppers v Fylde. Photo Neil Cross;

Fylde took almost immediate advantage when, after a few reconnaissance missions down the left flank, they explored that avenue again and this time created enough space for the ever lurking try poacher skipper Ben Gregory to squeeze in at the corner.

Greg Smith narrowly failed with the touchline conversion attempt, but Fylde were ahead 5-0.

Straight from the restart Fylde’s talisman Dave Fairbrother burst through several tackles, only to get isolated and Preston were awarded a penalty in kickable range.

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Ben Pearson duly slotted the kick and Hoppers were on the board at 5-3.

No way through for Preston Grasshoppers against Fylde at Lightfoot GreenNo way through for Preston Grasshoppers against Fylde at Lightfoot Green
No way through for Preston Grasshoppers against Fylde at Lightfoot Green

On 22 minutes Fylde fell behind for the only time in the game.

The Hoppers pack made a mess of the Fylde scrum, earning another penalty which Pearson once again sent through the uprights to edge his side in front 6-5.

On 35 minutes the Fylde back line stretched the home defence to the point where Declan Norrington was given a yellow for a high tackle.

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A Hoppers line out in their own 22 was then overthrown and Fylde swiftly moved the ball along the backs allowing winger Tom Grimes to score in the same spot Ben Gregory had earlier.

Smith’s conversion drifted wide, but Fylde had once more taken advantage of the extra man and were back in front at 10-6.

A poor restart from Hoppers was driven in by Ben O’Ryan and quickly recycled.

Greg Smith spotted the gap in the home defence and carved through on a lovely angle. With support players a plenty it was a case of picking the right option, which he did with aplomb, sending the ball back inside to Matt Sturgess who scampered in from 25 out right under the sticks, at last giving Smith an easy conversion.

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Suddenly, from making hard work of it, Fylde had hit Hoppers with a double whammy and stretched their lead out to a much more comfortable 17-6, which is how it remained at half time.

Fylde produced a sweeping move of high quality on 50 minutes when the ball was swept across the back line and Adam Lanigan showed his pace and finishing prowess as he dived in at the corner.

The conversion was missed but the Fylde lead had stretched out to 22-6 and, crucially, the try bonus point had been secured.

Hoppers had one gilt edged scoring chance late on when a midfield break created a large overlap, however Tom Grimes, who was back on at this point, did well to get in the way of the intended pass, bat the ball up, re-gather and allow Fylde to clear their lines.

Fylde saw the game out with no further troubling of the scoreboard