Preston Grasshoppers 66 – 14 Lymm
1st Team Match Report | Saturday October 30 2021
Clinical Preston show Lymm the way
Once again Lymm hit the road with a squad incorporating a number of changes from the previous week due to injuries and unavailabilities. James Sherlock, Steve Pilkington, Rory Riddell and Cormac Nolan all missed the trip with Scott Redfern, Alfie Simpson, Nick Ashton and Liam Connolly relacing them. Lymm’s plans were then dealt a further blow with Adam Bray withdrawing on the morning of the match promoting Harry Martin to the starting XV. Ed Morris and Jordan Houghton joined Jordan Widdrington on the bench.
With the heavy, squally showers abating just before the 2:30 KO, the game was played in fresh but fine and breezy conditions on Preston’s AGP.
PGH kicked off and, after securing the ball Lymm were awarded a penalty, a very rare occurrence in the first half, giving them a line-out on halfway. The throw was missed handing the ball back to Hoppers, who used a few phases to probe the Lymm defensive line. A chink was then exploited when their centre, Stott, although being brought down in the tackle, was able to free his hands sufficiently to find support, splitting the Lymm defence at pace, the cover tackle being insufficient to prevent the score. After 2 minutes 7-0, and the omens did not look good.
Lymm then came back and a half-break by Will Leach was supported by Connolly who took play deep into the Preston 22, a kick through behind the scrambling Hoppers defence was diffused and the attack petered out. Then on 9 minutes, there was a key moment when the Hoppers right wing was put in the clear in the Lymm 22 but, as he attempted to ground the ball near the corner, he was bundled into touch by Lymm full-back, Redfern. Whilst the try wasn’t scored, the referee adjudged Redfern’s tackle to have been high, promptly awarding PGH a penalty try and Redfern 10 minutes in the bin. 9 minutes gone, 14-0 down and one man down. To make matters worse, Lymm then lost flanker Martin to a head injury.
Whilst Redfern was off the pitch PGH added a third converted try and shortly after he returned their fourth, bonus point, try through a number 8 pick up at an attacking scrum. 21 minutes gone and Lymm were 26-0 down.
Lymm were battling, but the penalty count and their inability to retain the ball through phases of possession cost them dear, with any momentum they succeeded in building being short-lived. For their part Preston were clinical, pretty much scoring every time they got into the Lymm 22. They soaked up the pressure when they had to, pouncing on Lymm errors to create turnover counter attacks allowing them to give the ball width.
Preston scored another converted try on 32 minutes but then on 36 minutes, Lymm finally got themselves on the scoreboard. A line out in the PGH 22 was won and a front peel involving Oli Higginson and Rob Makin took play to within 5m of the try line. A few phases with the forwards taking play towards the posts put the defence under pressure, catching them offside. From the resultant penalty the ball was popped to Kurt Riley, who forced his way over from 5m. Redfern’s successful conversion made the score 33-7 before Preston scored again with the final play of the half.
Half Time: PGH 38 – 7 LYMM
At the start of the second half, Lymm looked more determined and composed. Joe Watson regathered the restart and Lymm progressed down the left flank, winning a line-out about 25m from the Preston try line. The resultant rolling-maul first rumbled, then gathered pace as it headed inland towards the posts. A try seemed inevitable but when it went to ground, just short of the line, the referee was very quick to penalise Lymm for holding on – threat diffused. Lymm then had another good phase before losing control of the ball. Hoppers pounced on the opportunity, a kick over the Lymm defence, a fortuitous bounce and a spot of ball juggling later and they had notched up another 7 points in the blink of an eye. 45-7
Lymm then had a really good opportunity to put points on the board when Aaron Rasheed made a strong break down the right-hand flank. With one man to beat and the pacy Simpson outside him, he elected to take the defender on and Preston recovered sufficiently to stop the attack. Over the next 30 minutes, Hoppers scored three more tries – built on the common themes of capitalising on errors; speed of thought; and clinical execution. Finally though, with the last play of the match, Lymm scored again. This time it was Higginson who crossed the whitewash from a short tap penalty.
Full Time: PGH 66 – 14 LYMM
After the match a thoughtful Director of Rugby, Adam Fletcher, commented:
“Preston showed us just how brutal this league can be if you’re not quite on your game. They were relentless and executed their game plan really well. It will be good to have a week off, review the last 8 weeks and put in place a plan to beat Macclesfield.
The break should also allow some of the growing list of injured players to recover.”
1) Kurt Riley, 2) Rob Makin, 3) Nick Ashton, 4) James Yates, 5) Aaron Rasheed, 6) Joe Watson, 7), Harry Martin, 8) Oli Higginson, 9) Gregor Watson, 10) Will Leach, 11) Paddy Jennings, 12) Liam Connelly, 13) Ben Stansfield (C), 14) Alfie Simpson, 15) Scott Redfern, 16) Jordan Widdrington, 17) Ed Morris, 18) Jordan Houghton.
Referee: David Charlton
Match Report: Andy Leach
Photographs: Stuart Watson