South Leicester 34 Hoppers 51
Grasshoppers travelled to Welford Road for their last away fixture of the season against South Leicester RFC who face relegation from National League Two North and came away worthy winners.
Having beaten this team ‘to nil’ at Lightfoot Green, their supporters were hoping for a confident performance and whilst they were treated to an entertaining match, this proved to be no pushover for Preston.
Coach Paul Arnold had to make some changes through injury and players’ unavailability so with Millea and Howard on the bench and the front row totally changed from that which had played them into seventh spot in the league, Hoppers kicked off into a bitingly cold breeze.
And they were behind within three minutes after conceding what was the first of a glut of penalties in this match.
Order was quickly restored with a try from Pope and two from Hurst, each converted by Davidson.
South Leicester replied with a penalty and a converted try of their own only to see their opponents extend their lead with a penalty and another try from Purcell making the half- time score 29-13 to Preston.
Whist Hoppers had been in control for the most part, South Leicester had dominated the scrums and were dangerous on the break showing fast pace and deft handling.
The second half maintained the entertainment, with Hurst getting his hat-trick try and Jordan adding two more. Two yellow cards for Purcell and Jordan did not help the Preston cause and whilst Hoppers were playing for 20 minutes with 14 men, the home side were able to add to their score with two tries from open play and a penalty try awarded after a succession of infringements.
Arnold declared himself pleased with the result.
He said: “I am really happy with the five points. Playing a side facing relegation is dangerous and South Leicester are not a bad outfit.
“This was not a perfect performance but we did what we had to do. With 89 points in the league we have beaten the target of 85 I set in March and we want to finish the season with a win against Chester despite underdogs.
“Today the backs had a great game and the forwards were rotated and rested, which allowed new players to show their worth.”