Sixth successive home victory for Preston Grasshoppers
The rain which started just before kick-off couldn’t spoil Preston Grasshoppers’ parade towards a sixth successive home win as they beat Rossendale 26-6.
After a sticky start, Hoppers’ performance improved even as the weather worsened in the second half and they were able to chalk up another bonus-point victory, with the added satisfaction of keeping their own line intact.
It had been an emotional week, with the funeral of assistant coach Donny Sutherland, and head coach Paul Arnold said: “Donny would have been proud of them today. There were some big performances, especially in the pack, while scrum-half Jake Squirrell and centre Sam Stott are having storming seasons and Jacob Browne looks very effective at full-back.
“But the half-time score (7-6) was a big wake-up call and we put in a good second half.”
Hoppers started brightly, but a dropped pass out wide wrecked the first scoring chance and a fine break by former Hopper Lewis Allen set up the position for Rossendale to take an early lead, thanks to Liam McGovern’s simple penalty.
Given the chance to respond in kind, Hoppers turned down a penalty in front of the posts in favour of a scrum and were rewarded when Squirrell dummied his way over for a try converted by Tom Walker.
The hosts tried to turn up the pressure, but Rossendale defended well on their own line and even managed to cut the gap to a single point with another McGovern penalty on the stroke of half-time as home prop Pete Altham was yellow carded.
Hoppers rejigged their front row, with Christian Taylor and Ollie Trippier coming off the bench, and it took only four minutes for Taylor to grab his sixth try of the season from a line-out drive.
Walker converted both this and the third try, 10 minutes later, after Oga Mabaya did well to hold a pass and get the ball to Stott, who fed Sam Gale for a close-range score.
Hoppers had the bonus point in the bag before the final quarter, when star man Toby Harrison crashed over from another line-out surge.
Ben Dorrington was sinbinned in stoppage time, but Preston were happy to record their eighth win, with one draw and one defeat, and stay second in the North Premier League.