Chester 48 Hoppers 37
Hoppers’ return to League 2 North started at Chester’s Hare Lane with a wake-up call.
With a penalty from Tom Holloway who then converted Andrew Oakden’s, try they were 10 – 0 down inside three minutes of the kick off.
Chester pressed on, testing the backs with long, high kicks from inside their half.
Hoppers’ forwards then started to gain some possession resulting in two penalties confidently kicked by new No.10 Tom Davidson.
Chester responded, competing vigorously at the breakdown, dominating the line out and repeatedly driving the visitors back resulting in a converted try for Mike Craven.
A Hoppers penalty took them into the corner and a lineout drive, resulting in a scrum and push over try for Matt Lamprey.
From the restart a break from Ollie Trippier, gained Hoppers a penalty and had the forwards battling on the Chester five-metre line.
A series of reset scrums and a yellow card for the Chester scrum half ended in a trademark drive and pick-up try by Lamprey which was converted by Davidson.
Hoppers were now in front at 17-18 but lacked control of the ball and Chester scored twice before the half time whistle. The teams went in at 31-18.
The second half start was almost a repeat of the first with Chester outside centre Adam King scoring a try within the first minute, Holloway providing the conversion.
Coach Paul Arnold’s half-time talk had an obvious effect with Hoppers protecting the ball and going through the phases. James Fitzpatrick crossed the line and Davidson converted.
With the Hoppers’ forwards dominating the scrum, the fourth try followed soon after with Pete Altham scoring and Davidson accurate once again.
Chester then replied and had the Preston side defending a barrage of attacks in front of their posts and with four minutes of the match remaining, King scored again, Holloway converted to make the scoreline 48-32.
Hoppers rallied again and a series of punishing attacks ended with new No.9 James Gough marking his debut with a try as the clock ran down.
After the match, Arnold said: “We had too many unforced errors, made too many silly mistakes and a lack of discipline resulting in penalties effectively cost us a game against a good side who were smarter than us today.
“However, I take lots of positives from the game and am happy with the way the team and the new boys have played.”