Wed 17 Nov 2021 11:11

Kirkby Lonsdale 5 v 45 Preston Grasshoppers
 
A Personal View by Cammie Hodgkinson
 

Out of the stygian gloom and persistent precipitation of the previous week came a bright blue clear sky Saturday for this home fixture against second placed Hoppers.

Kirkby kicked off towards the town and had the better of the early exchanges but whilst in possession in Hoppers territory in a driving maul a lobbed pass out of the maul was intercepted by Hoppers pacey full back who raced away to score a gift try by the left corner flag. The conversion was missed but the visitors led 0 - 5 with only ten minutes played.

With a weight advantage in the pack it was clear early on that Hoppers would have an advantage in the set piece. And it was pressure from a scrum that put them on the attack in the home twenty two where in defence Kirkby's David Cooper-Dunn picked up a yellow card and with the man advantage Hoppers scored their second try. Again the conversion was wide but it was 0 - 10 at the end of the first quarter.

Then came an incident that could be said was to influence the match, that’s the view of the writer. Kirkby full back Harvey Williams went up to catch a Hoppers clearance kick and was clearly taken out whilst in the air, there were then the obligatory handbags as retribution was sought and instead of a penalty ‘for’ Kirkby finished up with a penalty ‘against’.

 
This put Hoppers back on the attack with a lineout some twenty metres from the Kirkby line and their forwards went through several phases as they advanced towards the whitewash. There may still have been a sense of injustice and some red mist following the take out incident and during this defensive period Kirkby's James Fishwick was red carded for a spear tackle. Not much doubt about the tackle or the decision but it was to be fourteen against fifteen from here on and this is where the take out incident may have influenced the match, though not the result as the visitors were worth the win.

Hoppers almost immediately took advantage of the extra man running in their third try this time converted to make the score 0 - 17 at half time.

Undaunted the Kirkby fourteen came out battling in the second half and took the game to the visitors much to the appreciation of the large crowd. Several kickable penalties were spurned in favour of try scoring opportunities but whilst going close the home side couldn't turn the pressure into points and it was Hoppers who showed the way with their fourth try, converted to make it 0 - 24 as the game entered the final quarter.

Kirkby did eventually score when right wing Harry Ralston finished off a good move with a try in the right corner, the conversion was wide but the home side were on the board at last at 5 – 24. This might have been a realistic final score but then came the killer blow when Kirkby picked up their second yellow to play out the last ten minutes with only thirteen men on the pitch.

Hoppers didn't waste the opportunity, their forwards drove pulling in cover then the ball was spun wide and Kirkby simply ran out of defenders quickly conceding three late tries to somewhat unbalance the final score at 5 - 41.

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