Preston Grasshoppers fail to live up to a super start at Chester

Chester 27 Hoppers 14

Sunday, 1st March 2020, 9:43 am
Hoppers coach Paul Arnold (photo: Mike Craig)

Preston Grasshoppers lost at Chester despite a scintillating start to the game which saw them lead 11-0 within 10 minutes of the kick off.

Two Jake Squirrel penalties and an unconverted try by Chris Taylor saw the Lancashire side race into a well deserved lead before Kyle Joseph replied for the hosts.

The try for Preston came from a set-piece move between Taylor and Ryan Carlson that caught the hosts defence napping.

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The lead could have been extended had they been more clinical in attack. Three try scoring chances were spurned. A knock on over the line was harsh after a perfectly weighted kick from Nick Gregson created space in attack.

An overlap was not taken advantage of and individual errors near the try line ultimately cost Hoppers dear.

Despite being second best for the majority of the half, a controversial score by Chester on the stroke of half-time saw Preston head off 12-11 down.

With the scoreboard clock showing 43 minutes, the ball was kicked dead by Hoppers, only to the referee to inform them that there had only been 39 minutes played.

From the resulting scrum, Chester scored to give them the lead for the first time. Quick hands along the back line sent Thomas Foden under the posts.

Hoppers Coach Paul Arnold felt the final moments of the half were typical of the season to date. He said: “The last few minutes of the first half summed up our season. A few individual errors cost us dear.”

Chester took control in the second half and scored two more tries to complete a bonus point victory. Foden scored his second of the match with quick feet sending him through a tiring defence.

Squirrel narrowed the gap with his third penalty of the match but Hoppers saw John Blanchard sin binned for foul play shortly afterwards.

Chester immediately capitalised on the numerical advantage as a driving maul allowed Alick Croft to touch down.

Preston were still fighting hard to try and salvage something from the game but could not finish chances that came their way. Even when Shay Owen was yellow carded for a high tackle, Arnold’s men couldn’t get themselves back into the game.

Turned over set-pieces and unforced errors stopped the away side gaining any sort of momentum.

The final scoring act came from the boot of Daniel Pemberton in favour of the hosts.

A red card for Hoppers’ full back Scott Jordan for an alleged punch at an opposition player was a sour ending to an entertaining game.