Preston Grasshoppers 28 Otley 25: Late try hands Hoppers victory

​​In a dramatic reversal of last week’s agonising defeat at Fylde, Preston Grasshoppers landed a stoppage-time penalty to clinch a memorable victory over Otley 28-25.
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The first half produced just a penalty apiece, but there was a flurry of seven tries in the next 40 minutes to ensure an enthralling Roses clash.

Hoppers assistant coach Steve Kerry said: “We had a bit of luck today, but we got what we have deserved with our performances from the last four weeks.

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“We dug in there and got the rub of the green. Individually and as a team, it was a great performance. We are still improving, but we have improved our discipline and our team work.”

A late try gave Hoppers victory over Otley (photo: Mike Craig)A late try gave Hoppers victory over Otley (photo: Mike Craig)
A late try gave Hoppers victory over Otley (photo: Mike Craig)

Otley came to Lightfoot Green in third place in National League Two North and quickly set out their credentials as Hoppers lost their first ruck and first line-out. But the hosts soon settled down and, after two promising attacks, took the lead with Will Hunt’s simple penalty.

When Otley took their turn on the offensive, Hoppers defended strongly, but conceded a penalty to Otley scrum-half Joe Rowntree to tie the scores at 3-3.

The second half proved a different story in terms of points, Tyler Spence showing the way within two minutes with a fine individual try from 60 metres - the winger’s fifth of the season.Hunt’s conversion hit the post and Hoppers were then rocked by two touchdowns in three minutes. Otley man-of-the-match Callum Irvine switched from full-back to fly-half, from where he proceeded to torment the home defence.

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His searing runs brought unconverted tries for wingers Clark Wells and Elliott Morgan to put the Yorkshiremen ahead for the first time. In a ding-dong tussle, Hunt narrowed the gap with a second penalty, only to see Wells bag his second try, again unconverted.

A strong build-up brought Hoppers a close-range try by hard-working flanker Josh Longson, with Hunt’s conversion levelling matters again.

A slick interchange with No 8 Scott Richardson, named Hoppers’ man of the match, saw Hunt race in for a try which he also converted to put his side seven points clear.

But the plot twists continued, with Irvine deservedly claiming the visitors’ bonus-point try and Rowntree’s conversion making it 25-25.

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But this newly-resilient Hoppers side were not to be denied and forced a penalty under the sticks, which Hunt popped over to give himself 50 points for the season.

Kerry said the team are starting to believe in themselves. This first victory in six games should strengthen that belief for the final quarter of the campaign.

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