Hoppers earn draw in topsy-turvy clash

Paul Arnold
Paul Arnold

The Preston Grasshoppers faithful left the Ferens Ground in Hull with mixed feelings after a scrappy encounter resulted in a 10-10 draw with both sides having chances to win the game towards the end.

Head coach Paul Arnold said: “Credit to Hull for the way they came out of the blocks and took advantage of our slow start. I was delighted with the way we managed to stay in the game and it was great to see our set piece on top form once again which allowed us to get a foothold in the game.

“The lads responded well to some strong words at half time and I was impressed with the period of play at the start of the second 40.

“On another day, we could have run away with that in the spell we had after half-time but disallowed tries and some missed opportunities meant we left points on the pitch.”

A sloppy start from Hoppers saw the opening kick-off spilled and Hull capitalised with some quick thinking from the scrum-half putting winger Stephen Hihetah in the corner to leave Hoppers finding themselves 5-0 down inside the first minute.

Just moments later this was compounded with Hoppers winger Alex Hurst sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle.

Looking to negate Hull’s driving play, Hoppers chose to stand back and not let Hull form a maul only to be on the end of a double-bluff with a front peel leading to the Hull man going over untouched.

It took Hoppers 20 minutes to finally got into the game. Their destructive scrum earning a couple of penalties to allow the Preston side to establish some field position. Will Hunt’s radar was slightly off with two 40 metre plus penalties drifting wide of the sticks.

Hoppers came roaring out of the blocks in the second half.

Following a held up maul and a disallowed Jake Squirrel try for obstruction, Hoppers finally got over the line through skipper Paul Millea who burrowed over from close range after some patient, driving play from the pack. Hunt was wide with the conversion but Hoppers were right back in the game.

Hoppers soon found themselves back on the Hull line with the Yorkshire starting to buckle under the pressure. The referee’s patience soon ran out with Hull infringing repeatedly. Hull’s second row was sent to the bin for a ruck offence and Hoppers were now well on top.

It was all Preston for the next 20 minutes with disallowed tries for Stott and Fitzpatrick the only thing keeping Hull in the game. The pressure eventually told for Hoppers and a brilliant finish from the fizzing Trueman saw Hoppers level the game up with 70 minutes on the clock.

With another Hull man in the bin it looked like Hoppers would find a way to win the game but to Hull’s credit they battled back to hold on to the draw.