Harrogate vs Preston Grasshoppers
Harrogate dominated the first half of this top of the table clash and the 13-10 interval score didn’t accurately reflect their superiority.
However, Hoppers upped their game in the second half and deservedly won the match. Harrogate/Hoppers matches are always full blooded encounters and this was no exception. Unfortunately, the young referee lost control after the first hour and there was a spate of yellow cards and, well into stoppage time, a red card for each side.
Harrogate ran through their attacking moves from the start but Preston’s defence held out until they were penalised for a high tackle. From the subsequent line-out, No8, Jonny Coser made a beautifully angled 25 metres run to score in the left corner. Luke White’s touchline conversion made it 7-0. Almost immediately, Preston were penalised on the half way line for not releasing and White’s kick increased the lead.
Harrogate knocked on the restart kick leading to a spell of Preston pressure. The Harrogate defence went offside and Jack Squirrell’s penalty kick gave Hoppers their first score. Preston were now coming more into the game inspired by powerful running from their No8, Matt Lamprey. Experienced centre, James Fitzpatrick also made telling breaks and, on the stroke of half time, his powerful run led to quick attacking ball and hooker, Paul Millea drove over to score a converted try.
Preston came out of their blocks from the start of the second half and, from a midfield break, a glaring missed tackle led to centre, Sam Stott scoring a converted try to put Hoppers ahead for the first time. They were then penalised for holding and White’s penalty kick put Harrogate back only one point behind. However, this proved to be Harrogate’s last score.
More Hoppers attacks led to tries from full back, Scott Jordan and centre, Alex Hurst. Again Harrogate attacked forcing Preston to concede two successive penalties for high tackles. The second one led to a dust up and yellow cards for Harrogate’s Keane Naylor and Preston’s Tyler Spence. After a series of long lectures from the referee the second penalty was reversed and Preston won an attacking line-out from which Preston scored their bonus point winning try
A Squirrell penalty goal punished a Harrogate offside offence but then a high tackle from Hoppers stand-off Alex Ward saw him dispatched to the sin bin. A succession of Harrogate driving mauls followed but, though agonisingly close to scoring, Preston’s defence held out. Scuffles were now breaking out leading to red cards for Harrogate’s Connor Ward and Preston’s Paul Arnold.
Harrogate: Lawson, Rosillo, Naylor, Minikin, Edwards, White, Matthews, Butler, Maycock, Ward, Dodds, Brady, Spurr, G Coser, J Coser. Subs:- Harvey, Boyde, Riddell
Preston Grasshoppers: Jordan, Spence, Hurst, Fitzpatrick, Crossley, Ward, Squirrell, Mabaya, Millea, Altham, Arnold. Roddy, Murray, Trippier, Lamprey. Subs:- Madden, Johnson, Stott.
Referee: Jack Le Feuvre (Northern Division)
Match Report by Bill Barrack