South Leicester 23, Preston Grasshoppers 10

Garth Dew
Garth Dew
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Preston Grasshoppers lost on their travels against South Leicester side at Welford Road.

Despite a much improved second-half performance, Hoppers failed to get within losing bonus-point range of their opponents and left Leicestershire pointless.

Hoppers’ head coach Garth Dew reflected: “Our second-half performance was superb, and if we start every game like that between now and the season’s end we have every chance of staying up.

“We gave away two really soft tries in the first-half, and I let the boys know at half-time that I expect more from them, and they played much better in the second-half. It was disappointing that we couldn’t come away with at least a losing bonus-point which I think we deserved.”

South dominated the first-half, leading 20-0 at the interval. Blane Howe got things underway after only four minutes.

With a three-man overlap out wide, the winger was put in for an easy score, and Rick Aley added the extras.

South had plenty phases and created many good backs moves despite the boggy conditions underfoot, and Aley slotted a penalty three minutes into the second-quarter to give the hosts a 10-0 advantage.

Number eight Gareth Turner then scored South’s second try, picking up a loose fly hack from Hoppers’ Niall Crosley inside his own twenty-two, and sprinting the full length of the pitch to slide in for an impressive score.

Six minutes later, Howe bagged his second and South’s third, collecting a lovely chip over the top from Aley, with a huge defensive hole once again apparent.

Hoppers started the second period in a more positive fashion, putting the phases together and creating chances.

The introduction of Mike Searle at stand-off at half-time clearly made a difference, as he gave Hoppers a much-needed attacking impetus.

Ally Murray crashed over on 55 minutes for a well-deserved try, with Searle converting.

South then went down to 13 men with only 10 minutes remaining after Josh McLaurin was sent off for receiving two yellow cards, and Hoppers sensed they had a chance.

But South’s defence remained resolute, the only scores being a penalty apiece from Aley and Searle.