York 5, Preston Grasshoppers 16: Hoppers get new year off to a winning start

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Preston Grasshoppers started the New Year with a trip across the Pennines to York and, having had the last match before Christmas postponed due to Covid-19, they were eager to get back to playing after a three week lay-off.

The match, in many ways, was a re-run of the home fixture. From their kick off, York played a fast-paced, running game and were immediately pressing the Hopper’s line.

Penetrating runs by their backs had their visitors defending all across their 22m line and from the start it was obvious that hard tackling was to be the order of the day as the ball was wrestled back and forth.

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York suffered an early blow as their No.4 Fothergill was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-down and it was only minutes later that Hoppers took the lead when Alex Ward slotted the first of three successful penalty kicks of the afternoon.

Alex Ward slots over a penalty kick (photo: Rod Murray)Alex Ward slots over a penalty kick (photo: Rod Murray)
Alex Ward slots over a penalty kick (photo: Rod Murray)

He added the second only minutes later and with almost half an hour gone, Preston looked to be in the driving seat.

York however had other ideas. From a period of constant pressure inside the Preston 22m, they had a line-out on the five metre line. The ball was secured and their No.8 Goulding crossed towards the corner flag.

The conversion was wide of the posts and at half time the score stood at 5-6.

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The second half was played at the same fast pace as the first but Preston had obviously regrouped and it was they who were pressurizing the try line with breaks and passing play from both forwards and backs.

Their reward came when after a string of forwards’ pick-and-go moves on the York line, Chris Taylor scored in the corner. Ward, having missed a penalty from almost in front of the posts just a couple of minutes earlier, made light of the difficult kick from wide on the wing to put Preston eight points in front with half an hour to play.

Then it was Hoppers’ turn for a yellow card when Declan Norrington was deemed to have tackled high but this did not stop the constant waves of attack as they spent most of the rest of the match inside the York half.

The outcome was cemented when Ward kicked the third penalty from directly in front of the posts and with no answer from their hosts, Preston Grasshoppers finished the match 5-16 winners.

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