Preston Grasshoppers 7 Rotherham Titans 34: Hoppers' promising showing in defeat

That first home win still eludes Preston Grasshoppers but this scoreline does them a bit of a disservice.
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They competed well throughout the first half of a wild and wet afternoon at Lightfoot Green but promotion contenders Rotherham ran away with it after the break, scoring 24 unanswered points.

All six tries were scored by forwards, most of them from the tried and trusted formula of kicking penalties to the corner and driving over from the lineout.

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Hoppers’ director of rugby Alex Keay said: “The score didn’t reflect the open-field play.

Preston Grasshoppers lost against Rotherham Titans on Saturday Picture: Mick CraigPreston Grasshoppers lost against Rotherham Titans on Saturday Picture: Mick Craig
Preston Grasshoppers lost against Rotherham Titans on Saturday Picture: Mick Craig
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“We matched Rotherham in a lot of areas and I am pleased with our energy and effort.”

With Hoppers conceding four penalties in the first six minutes, the Titans were able to dominate territorially and soon notched the first of their tries through Callum Bustin.

The hosts quickly hit back, with a charge down, kick ahead and pick-up by Ellis Causey bringing him his first try of the campaign, as well as a dislocated shoulder in the process.

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That was as close as Hoppers got to springing a major shock against a side which Keay reckons could well win promotion from National Two North in April.

Rotherham spurned a glorious opportunity with a poor final pass after a breakaway, but soon smuggled flanker Zak Poole over from a lineout.

Hoppers defended well at two scrums on their line to trail 10-7 at half-time but mounting pressure at the set-piece saw prop Wade Williams sinbinned.

Very soon his opposite number, Charlie Capps, went over from close range.

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Restoration to 15 men made little difference for Hoppers as flanker John Okafor and replacement forwards Kivalu Loma and Rupert Kay added further close-range tries in a dominant second-half display.

Richard Hayes could manage only two of the six conversions but Titans were happy to move within six points of leaders Leeds Tykes in the two-horse race for the title.

Hoppers dropped back to 11th on 26 points, four or five points fewer than Keay said he expected them to have going into the second half of the season.

However, he insists he is “looking upward, not down” as far as the table is concerned as Hoppers prepare for the derby at Fylde next Saturday.

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