Hinckley 27, Preston Grasshoppers 17: Patched-up Hoppers are narrowly beaten
With a total of 16 first team players unavailable through injury, Preston Grasshoppers went to Hinckley with several players appearing for the first time this season.
Ewan Naylor was promoted from the second 15m for his first ever senior outing and Will Davidson started for the first time this season having made a real impact last year.
They were joined by prop Oga Mabaya who was on the bench, for the first time since the serious injury which had kept him out for almost nine months, having been pulled out of a second team run-out at the last minute.
With the kick off put back to four o’clock to allow people to watch the World Cup Final, it was getting dark when Hinckley kicked off under the floodlights at Leicester Road.
Within five minutes were in front after their forwards had worked their way up the field through a series of set pieces resulting in a lineout on their visitors’ 5m line where a confident drive resulted in the first of their three tries.
This set the pattern for the game as the strong Leicester side used their possession well but the Hoppers defence kept them at bay for almost half an hour until, from another lineout, their forwards crossed the whitewash.
Hoppers came back just before the break with a long run from full back Jordan Dorrington who sent a kick pass through the defence for Jacob Browne to collect and finish wide of the posts and the teams went in with the score at 14-5.
The second half started well with Hoppers scoring their second try after only seven minutes but Hinckley responded with a converted try and a penalty which pushed their lead on to 24-10.
Once again the Preston side rallied and with ten minutes of the match remaining, it was Dorrington who collected a kick forward and was able to convert his own try which put them in a Losing Bonus Point territory.
However, this slender margin was quickly increased when Hinckley scored another penalty to put themselves 10 points in front at the final whistle.
Coach Paul Arnold was quick to praise the team’s performance,
“I am immensely proud of the lads. Last year we were destroyed here and with the side we were able to field because of injury there would have been no argument if they had lost by 50 points.
“But, having gone behind, to keep their heads up and get within touch of a bonus point was a really good performance.”