Preston Grasshoppers 7, Sedgley Park 46: Hoppers frustrated by defeat to Park

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Sedgley Park’s four-try blitz in the final quarter gave a slightly lopsided look of 46-7 to the scoreboard after Preston Grasshoppers had initially presented a strong challenge to the National League Two North leaders.

The hosts’ assistant coach Dan Orwin said: “We had them rattled in the first half and looked dangerous when we got the ball.

“The lads are very frustrated. The scoreline certainly flattered Sedgley.”Orwin felt one of the crucial differences was the strength in depth on the Park bench. “We had a lot of our leaders off the field towards the end and that made a big difference.”

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Hoppers conceded two penalties in the first two minutes, allowing the visitors to establish a position from which No 8 Tom Ailes crashed over after aline-out. Evergreen Steve Collins, who ran the game effectively throughout, converted and it was the fly-half’s break which put his side in the driving seat for a second try after 20 minutes, winger Rhys Henderson having a clear run in out wide.

Match action from Preston Grasshoppers' game against Sedgley ParkMatch action from Preston Grasshoppers' game against Sedgley Park
Match action from Preston Grasshoppers' game against Sedgley Park

Chris Taylor and Harry Moulding got Hoppers moving with a strong attack which led to a five-metre scrum, from which the letter darted over for a try converted by Dan Pearson.

As half-time approached, Hoppers had the chance to cut the gap further when skipper Moulding launched a searing break, but was unable to find his support on the inside. It proved a double blow for the home side as Park swiftly moved to the other end, where Ailes was driven over for his second try, converted by Collins for a 19-7 halftime lead.

Hard as Hoppers battled after the break, they could make no telling inroads, despite the regular threat from winger Tyler Spence on the counter.

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Instead, amid all the comings and goings from the bench, Sedgley wrapped up all five points with tries from Danny Maher, Oscar Crowe and Jamie Harrison, who bagged two in the last five minutes.

Collins converted a couple of them to round off a scoreline very similar to Hoppers’ September defeat at Park, which ended 50-8. But on the basis of the first half, they will travel to Huddersfield next week in optimistic mood.

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