Agony for Hoppers
Harrogate 28 Preston Grasshoppers 26A last-gasp try from David Doherty saw Preston Grasshoppers lose a closely fought encounter against Harrogate.
The damaging defeat saw Hoppers swap places with their opponents at the foot of National League Two North.
Hoppers found themselves 5-0 down after just 90 seconds when Olly Rosillo raced in for a try.
The full-back ghosted through a poor Hoppers’ defensive line.
A Doherty penalty was then followed by a converted try for Jake Brady.
On his 200th Harrogate appearance, Brady touched down from a driving maul to give the hosts a 15-0 lead.
Hoppers then began to play some decent rugby and put the home side under pressure.
Their resolute defence was finally penetrated when Will Lees crossed the whitewash, finishing off a neat Hoppers line-out move.
Hoppers dominated the second half, scoring 21 points and spending most the half camped in Gate’s 22.
Allen slotted over two penalties to make it 18-11, before the score was levelled, courtesy of a try from Jack Harrison.
The scum-half went blind from a ruck and darted his way through to leave Allen with a simple conversion.
Hoppers then took the lead thanks to another Allen penalty, and they extended that margin in the 66th minute with a try from Jacob Browne.
Oli Viney’s hopeful cross-field kick was collected by Luke Proctor, who off-loaded to Browne, and the winger finished well in the corner.
Allen failed to add the extras, but Hoppers deserved to be ahead.
With 10 minutes remaining, Harrogate built up the phases and began to pressurise Hoppers’ backline.
Doherty’s penalty took the scores to 26-21, and a converted try was all the home side needed to complete the comeback.
In the game’s final play, fly-half Doherty scored and converted under the sticks to send the Rudding Park faithful into uproar, while Hoppers were left distraught with another close defeat.
Hoppers’ director of rugby Alan Holmes said: “In our last few games we’ve conceded easy points in the first 10 minutes of matches, which is a huge issue.
“This is something we’re going to look at in training and think about starting games stronger.
“The players responded really well in the second half and we will look at the positives and try to re-emphasise and sustain that for longer periods in future games.”