Otley 28 Hoppers 25
Preston Grasshoppers’ second consecutive trip over the Pennines produced the same outcome – a last play loss in a game that they could and probably should have won.
The away side were quick to put the pressure on with some forward drives and some slick handling in the backs saw Conor Trueman tackled into touch just short of the line. But it was Otley who scored first against the run of play as a dropped ball was hacked through and Oli Goss touched down under the posts, Joe Rowntree converting.
Hoppers responded immediately with good hands and, after a break from Sam Stott, Luke Proctor forced his way over but the kick failed.
Hoppers continued to attack and on 20 minutes Tom Davidson’s penalty put his side ahead and then Trueman again came close before P J Millea forced his way over in the corner.
On 34 minutes, Otley lost a man to the sin bin and Hoppers used the advantage as Oli Trippier touched down from a lineout maul and Davidson’s kick made it 20-7 at the break.
At the restart, Hoppers’ pack continued to dominate and when the ball was released excellent passing from the backs put Tueman in at last in the corner for the bonus point try to make it 25-7.
But again there followed a breakaway counter-attack from Otley as a mix-up in defence brought a try for winger Petchey and the kick was good.
Five minutes later further poor tackling allowed full-back Ben Magee in and Goss’s kick reduced the deficit to just four points. Hoppers then squandered a clear overlap out wide after another break from Stott and rang the changes from the bench.
Hoppers attempted to hold out but a potentially relieving penalty failed to find touch and put Otley back on the attack, their pack camping on Hoppers’ goalline as full-time loomed.
Preston defended but at the expense of three yellow cards and deep into injury time, enough was enough for referee Richardson who awarded a penalty try.
Disappointed coach Paul Arnold expressed his frustration.
He said: “In the first half we performed as well as we have all season but it’s the third game on the bounce we have deserved more. We need to sort things out for the trip to Wharfedale next week.”