Hinckley Hornets 49 Hoppers 5
“A bad day at the office” was Preston Grasshoppers coach Paul Arnold’s summary of the match.
Hoppers travelled to Leicester Road knowing they had a hard game in front of them.
Their hosts had occupied the upper reaches of the league throughout the season and despite some inconsistent form over the last few weeks they were fourth in the table.
Hinckley kicked off into a chilly breeze and made a quick start with full-back Wilson slotting home a penalty from after six minutes.
Then the visitors were given a flavour of what the match was to offer as the Hornets’ forwards began exerting their power game right across the field and penned them in their own half.
Hoppers struggled to respond until they finally secured the ball and a series of quick phases moved it to hooker Ollie Trippier who scored inside the corner. Davidson stepped up but the ball was judged to have missed the post.
Hoppers’ lead was short lived as a second penalty put Hinckley back in the driving seat and then they never looked back. With three tries in the first half and four more in the second, Hinckley dominated the game.
There was some light in the Hoppers’ camp as the return of Chris Roddy, coupled with Rouban Birch and some accurate delivery from Trippier restored their lineout success which has been lacking this season.
However, time and again, having won the ball they were robbed by the Hinckley forwards and found themselves back on the defence.
As if to further compound their woes, two yellow cards shown to Howard and then Gough in the first half meant that for 20 minutes Hoppers faced their opponents with only 14 players and at half time the score was 25-5.
Any optimism was dashed three minutes into the second half Hinckley scored the first of four more tries.
The Preston forward play was overcome by brute force from the Hinckley pack and an inability to keep the ball to hand in the backs.
Arnold said: “Hinckley fully deserved the win, everything they tried came off and the two yellow cards killed us. We never stopped trying, Ollie Trippier coming in late at hooker was superb in the lineout but we didn’t respect the ball enough.”