Preston Grasshoppers 39 Tynedale 16
Preston Grasshoppers’ biggest home win for more than a year took them into the top half of National League One North.
But they kept the fans on tenterhooks waiting for the bonus-point try which took them there.
A second half which brought an extraordinary six yellow cards in the space of 20 minutes, saw each side reduced to 12 men for short periods and did nothing to ease the flow of the game.
“It was a bit frustrating,” said Hoppers head coach Garth Dew.
“The yellow cards made a mess of the game and we made hard work of getting the fourth try. But we eventually kept our composure, and our attacking play was some of the best we’ve seen lately.
“We looked dangerous out wide, but we didn’t back ourselves sufficiently when we could have finished moves off.
“We had a massive ascendency in the scrums but our line-out was the worst it’s been for a while.”
Tynedale fly-half Matty Outson and Hoppers full-back Sean Taylor exchanged early penalties, before the hosts claimed the first try, lock Ryan Birchall-Feeney getting over at full stretch, after good runs by Christian Taylor and Tom Hurst ended with Lewis Allen being stopped just short of the line.
Sean Taylor missed the conversion but made no mistake five minutes later after a Birchall-Feeney line-out catch allowed Ally Murray to be driven over for the second touchdown.
Preston lost Hurst to a shoulder injury, Alex Zavallis-Roebuck taking his place at centre.
And they missed a couple of good chances to put the result beyond doubt before half-time – spoiling good work by Will Lees, Mark Murray, Harry Moulding and Zavallis-Roebuck.
That allowed Outson to keep Tynedale in the match at 15-9 with a couple of penalties.
But Preston galloped to a 16-point lead in the first eight minutes of the second half, Taylor popping over a penalty via a post, then converting Scott Jordan’s try after the winger latched onto a pinpoint cross-kick by Mark Murray.
By this time, London referee Jack Lewars had brandished the first of his yellow cards, for a tip tackle by Will Miller.
Fellow centre Jamie Dixon quickly followed him into the bin for a high tackle on Moulding, then Tynedale went down to 12 men – and Hoppers to 14 – when props Pete Altham and Ben Haigh indulged into a dust-up.
Oddly, the uneven numbers spurred the visitors into their best spell of the match and they were awarded a penalty try, converted by Outson, when a second home prop, Dan Madden, was sin-binned for collapsing a maul on their line.
Hoppers lock Reece Tomlinson became the sixth player to see yellow and, with all the comings and goings, the play lost its shape for a spell, with Preston fans anxiously watching the clock tick down towards another missed bonus point. So there was much relief when a line-out throw to Birchall-Feeney led to Madden being driven over for the fourth try.
Taylor converted, then took his season’s tally beyond 200 points, rounding off a run by Allen down the line with a try which he again converted.
Hoppers, unbeaten in their last seven games, are now up to eighth.