Preston Grasshoppers victorious in ‘must-win’ clash

Action from Hoppers' victory at Scunthorpe (photo: Bill Rhoades)
Action from Hoppers' victory at Scunthorpe (photo: Bill Rhoades)

Scunthorpe 7 Hoppers 30

Preston Grasshoppers travelled to Scunthorpe fully aware that with both teams occupying the foot of National League 2 North, this was a vitally important match if either of them were to start the long climb to safety.

From Scunthorpe’s kick-off, Hoppers showed their intent with a fast break into their hosts’ half where they maintained pressure for most of the first period. They moved the ball quickly, repeatedly gaining ground and whilst the Scunthorpe defence was resolute it was good to see phases being put together without so many of the handling errors which have dogged the side all season. Their efforts were rewarded with three points from the boot of Tom Davidson with a penalty in front of the posts.

Scunthorpe restarted but again found themselves defending constant attacks from the Preston forwards.

And whilst they made short forays into their visitors’ half, play was mainly on and around their own 22 for much of the first 30 minutes.

Then two yellow cards shown to Hoppers’ Wallbank and then Jordan in the space of four minutes gave the home side impetus.

With five minutes of the half remaining Scunthorpe’s fly-half Foster took a quick tap penalty in front of 
the posts and dived over the line.

Full-back Cook converted to put Scunthorpe into a slim lead but Grasshoppers, having had the majority of possession for most of the half, replied with their own penalty and the teams went in with the score at 7-6.

With the side restored to XV, Hoppers began the second half with renewed determination.

Davidson controlled the game, finding space with his kicking and marshalling his troops through wave after wave of attacks from which the travelling supporters were at last rewarded for their efforts this season with four tries, three from Chris Taylor and one from Ally Murray, as Hoppers dominated the rest of the game finishing with a five bonus points, 30-7 win.

After the match Preston Grasshoppers head coach Paul Arnold was obviously pleased,

He said: “This is a strong league and I have said to the team that from now on every game is a cup final.

“Fair play to Scunthorpe, they took advantage of the two yellow cards.

“But after their try we repelled all their attacks and going in at 7-6 the game was there for the taking.

“I am immensely proud of the whole team.

“They showed real confidence today.

“We controlled the second half and deserved the victory.”