Hoppers go top after seeing off old boys

Preston Grasshoppers' Matt Lamprey (photo: Mike Craig)
Preston Grasshoppers' Matt Lamprey (photo: Mike Craig)
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Rossendale 8 Preston Grasshoppers 26

Hoppers kept their unbeaten record so far this season with an impressive display in atrocious conditions at Rossendale and, since Lymm could only draw at Kendal, replaced them in top spot in the league, writes KEN MOORE.

In high winds and driving rain, the hosts, with four wins from six, started strongly and exerted some initial pressure playing down-wind and with the slope.

To add some extra spice, the home team included several ex- Hoppers and the visitors were soon reminded of the need for discipline as Lewis Allen, their leading points scorer last season, landed a 40-metre penalty in the second minute to give his side an early lead.

But Hoppers gained some territory and, after some effective pick and drives from the pack, debutant No.10, Alex Ward, spotted a gap to touch down near the posts and Jake Squirrel converted in the 14th minute.

The visiting pack were beginning to dominate but in a rare foray into away territory, a 
charged-down clearance kick, gifted Dale a try to put them 8-7 ahead.

Hoppers bossed the possession for the rest of the half, but at the break, trailed by one point.

Preston’s pack set the tone for the second period by taking an early scrum against the head and after a lineout drive Matt Lamprey drove over and Squirrel’s kick regained the lead.

Further pressure in the tight caused the home side to infringe and Chis Roddy touched down after another attacking lineout drive and again the kick was good. The hosts were now firmly on the back foot and their error-rate increased and, after further driving play, Lamprey was in for his second and bonus-point try on 65 minutes.

The hosts launched a late desperate attack but Hoppers’ defence held to secure an important win.

Coach Paul Arnold summed things up when he said: “A great performance in appalling conditions against a strong side. We played the conditions, kept it tight and ground out the win.

“The pack were immense with Matt Lamprey and Jake Squirrel controlling play at the base of the scrum and Alex Ward showed great composure in his first game at No.10.”