Sheffield Tigers 24 Hoppers 27
Preston Grasshoppers travelled to Dore Moor with confidence after their impressive win against Leicester Lions last week.
In bright sunshine Hoppers kicked off and with the strong, cool wind blowing directly down the field from behind, found themselves under attack straight away.
Tigers broke to the Preston 22 and when No.4, Symcox crossed the line, the visitors were 5-0 down within two minutes, as the conversion hung in the wind and dropped short of the posts.
A penalty four minutes later reduced the deficit as Tom Davidson, with the wind behind him, slotted the ball between the uprights from just inside the Tigers’ half.
Hoppers then settled into their game, keeping possession through several phases which took them to the Sheffield five-metre line and a lineout from where eventual man of the match, Ryan Carlson, broke to the try line. The conversion was good and order was restored.
Two minutes later Tigers were denied a further score when a penalty bounced away off the upright.
They then mounted a succession of attacks deep in the Preston half but the defence remained strong.
From a lineout on the Tigers’ 22 James Fitzpatrick passed to Alex Hurst who put winger Scott Jordan over the line for Hoppers’ second try. The conversion was good and extended their lead to 17-5 with fewer than six minutes to half time. Sheffield responded with a converted try of their own from No. 6, Wallace and the teams went in with the score at 17-12 to Hoppers.
Hoppers started the second half with real intent and in the first minute a yellow card was shown to the Sheffield scrum-half Holmes for a deliberate knock-on and the penalty kick from Davidson against the wind extended their lead.
This was quickly followed by a try by James Gough and another successful conversion by Davidson.
With the score at 27-12 Hoppers were looking for the bonus point try but were denied by two tries in five minutes as the Tigers found new momentum.
Despite another yellow card to Tigers’ Symcox, Hoppers were unable to break through and the match finished 27-24.
Head coach Paul Arnold was pleased with the result,
“I am really happy with character shown by our lads,” he said. “I had a few harsh words at half-time but they came out and really dominated the first 15 minutes of the second half.
“Sheffield are a good side and dangerous as they fight for survival and in these conditions with such a strong wind we were outstanding.”