Preston Grasshoppers win promotion after victory over Alnwick

Preston Grasshoppers have returned to National League Two North after victory over Alnwick confirmed their promotion on Saturday.

By Paul Outhwaite
Sunday, 3rd April 2022, 12:59 pm
Updated Sunday, 3rd April 2022, 1:01 pm

Blackburn’s defeat ensured Hoppers cannot be caught in second place in the North Premier table and now they have the chance to try to overhaul Otley at the top of the table in their final two games of the season.

Alnwick are the only side to inflict defeat on Paul Arnold’s men at Lightfoot Green this season and they were intent on achieving the double.

Play in the initial 10 minutes was all in Hoppers’ half and only resolute defence prevented a home score.

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Preston Grasshoppers celebrate promotion (photo:Rod Murray)

A penalty at last relieved the pressure and a run from Jacob Browne took the action into the home 22 for the first time. The away pack were beginning to dominate in the tight and on 16 minutes a 5-metre line out drive brought a try for Toby Harrison converted by Ben Pearson.

Minutes later, more forward pressure resulted in a yellow card for home No 8 Gothorpe and Hoppers took immediate advantage as Lamprey was shunted over the line for a converted try.

Alnwick enjoyed some possession but the defence held and, after more forward pressure and some good handling, Harrison was in again and Pearson’s kick was good.

Now well ahead, Hoppers seemed to lose concentration and some indifferent tackling saw home scrum half Hugh Todd touch down and Evan Moir’s conversion kept his side in the game at 7-21 at the break.

Alnwick again started strongly, but a strong break from Harrison Moulding from a line out on halfway and intelligent support running from Sam Stott saw the centre in under the posts for the bonus point try and the kick was good.

Alnwick refused to roll over and, with the action very physical, both sides were forced into changes due to injury leading to uncontested scrums.

However, another forward drive allowed Harrison to complete his hat trick but the last word went to Alnwick as in a final attack, centre Robson scored in the corner to make the final scoreline 33-12 to Hoppers.

News then came through to head coach Paul Arnolds and his players that third-placed Blackburn had lost at Lymm, confirming Hoppers’ promotion and celebrations duly ensued before they left the field.

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