Wharfedale 39, Preston Grasshoppers 22

Rouban Birch was impressive on his Hoppers debut
Rouban Birch was impressive on his Hoppers debut

Hoppers again scored four tries but once more were unable to produce a victory.

Hoppers again scored four tries but once more were unable to produce a victory.

Coach Paul Arnold was disappointed but conceded that the better team won. He said

“There were a lot of little things that went wrong with three errors leading to opposition tries.”

Hoppers took the lead as early as the fourth minute when a Wharfedale line out throw close to their own line did not go to hand allowing Hoppers to quickly transfer the ball across the field for Tyler Spence to squeeze in at the corner for an unconverted try.

Hoppers twice lost control of the ball in quick succesion giving Wharfedale right winger Hamilton the chance to race down the touchline and level the scores, Blakeney-Edwards adding the conversion.

Hoppers’ restart went straight into touch and Wharfedale took full advantage, putting Hamilton away for a second try. Matt Lamprey went close for Hoppers and soon a close range scrum was fruitful. Although Lamprey was again stopped short, Danny Leatherbarrow completed the job. With both conversions on target, Wharfedale's lead was 14-12.

After some end-to-end play, two penalties from Blakeney-Edwards increased his side's lead although Wharfedale had squandered try scoring opportunities. Hoppers finished the half with a late try after good work from Sale Sharks loan-player Rouban Birch who marked his debut with a strong run.

Connor Trueman provided support and again Spence crossed in the corner. Davidson's conversion attempt struck a post but bounced out to leave the score 20-17 at the break.

Flanker Houghton got Wharfedale's third try and again it was converted but a yellow card for centre Bullough gave Hoppers a numerical edge. They responded with Trueman putting Alex Ward away for the bonus point try. Again the conversion attempt hit a post and stayed out.

Leatherbarrow made a long run for Hoppers but lacked support and with the home side, back at full strength, winger Hamilton claimed his third try thanks to an interception and the conversion put the Yorkshiremen ten points in front.

Hoppers spurned an easy penalty in front of the posts in favour of going for a try but the ball was knocked on. There was almost an inevitability that Hoppers would allow a late try with Wharfedale's replacement scrum-half putting centre Lovegrove away. Once again the conversion was a formality and Hoppers coaches will have to address the worrying figure in the points against column.