Latest League match report

16/02/19 Tigers 1st XV  24 - 27 Preston Grasshoppers

On a very pleasant afternoon Tigers faced a ‘Hoppers side who were just a few places above but several points ahead. A good win, for either side, was important. Hoppers kicked off with the wind behind them and allowed Tigers the first use of the ball. Although they had possession Preston Grasshoppers were quickly up and Tigers found it difficult to move out of their 22. A quick break by Robbie Davidson moved Tigers upfield and at last they were able to exert some pressure. From a series of runs by the forwards they moved up towards the opposition 22 and a break by Alan Symcox saw him go clear and from 30m he set off for the line crossing it in the corner to give Mark Ireland a difficult kick. The ball looked to be going right between the posts when the wind got hold of it and it dropped short. Tigers were now ahead by 5 – 0 with just a couple of minutes gone. From the restart ‘hoppers put pressure on the Tigers defence but they were holding up well and looking comfortable. A penalty on the 10m line gave the visitors their first chance to get some points and, with a strong wind behind him Tom Davidson slotted it over 5 - 3 and game on! The game now went into attack and counterattack mode with both sides guilty of making mistakes. Tigers, however, were showing that they were dangerous in attack with good breaks by Jamie Broadley, Henri Packard, Tommy Hart and Peter Swatkins as well as some hard yards gained by Ashley Holland, Kain Rix and Lewis Bloor. ‘Hoppers also showed that they could attack but were content to use their forwards, and particularly their backrow of Carlson, Leatherbarrow and Lamprey to drive forward. Tigers were seemingly in little trouble when they gave away turnover ball in their own 22. They defended but from a scrum 10m out Carlson drove over and Davidson converted to give the visitors a 5 - 10 lead. Tigers now went into full attack mode and some fine breaks by Broadley, Packard and Hart were all stopped short – some by high tackles which the referee duly penalised. Tigers lineout was working well and giving them a good platform from which to attack. Whilst this was all exciting play the pressure was not turning into points and, when Tigers were penalised, they found themselves on the end of a long kick and a lineout on their own 22. From there it was the visitors turn to apply some pressure and a good break through the centre found the winger, Jordan, in space which he used well and crossed the line. The straightforward kick was taken and Tigers found themselves trailing by 5 - 17. Knowing that they needed to get back in the game before half time so that they could make good use of the wind in the second half Tigers put in a lot of work with the forwards, Will Bennett, Sam Johnson and Ed Simmons all driving forward and making ground. Eventually the hard work paid off and Liam Wallace crossed the line in the corner and, with a great kick, Ireland added the extras to make it 12 - 17 at half time.
From the kick off it was clear that ‘hoppers must have been given the proverbial kick up the backside as they immediately put pressure on the Tiger line and Tigers conceded a number of penalties from scrums. The visitors took the points and nudged further ahead at 12 - 20. The injured Wallace was replaced by Taylor-Dawes and ‘hoppers continued to pressure with the number of penalties growing. Eventually, when Ryan Holmes was penalised for knocking the ball out of his opposing scrum half’s hands and received a 10-minute rest period, ‘Hoppers saw their chance. They took the scrum and Tigers conceded anther penalty which the visitors took quickly and placed Tigers under more pressure until the scrum half, James Gough, crossed the line for a converted try to make it 12 – 27 after just 6 minutes of the second half. an injured Ed Simmons was replaced by Jed McDonald as Tigers attempted to fight back. The visitors continued to attack but Tigers defended well and held out until they were back to full strength. A good break by Broadley saw him move well up the field and with a kick through Swatkins was able to get the ball down and bring Tigers back into the game at 17 - 27. Tigers were now looking dangerous and from a 5m lineout they took the ball cleanly and Hart ran on to it at speed to touch down for a converted try to move the score to 24 - 27 and a bonus point to Tigers. Both teams were now pressing and the game went from end to end – usually as the result of penalties which seemed to be far too frequent. First ‘hoppers pressured the Tigers line with 5m lineouts and scrums but Tigers held out and fought back. Ashley Holland was replaced by Sam Mackey and then Alan Symcox was yellow carded which increased the pressure on Tigers. ‘Hoppers got a penalty 5m out and went for the scrum to try and seal a bonus point. They were penalised for pushing early and from the free kick Ireland put in a massive kick to take Tigers into the opposition 22. ‘Hoppers took the lineout and attacked but Tigers defended well. It now seemed that someone was going to be penalised at every scrum. From one of the penalties Tigers were able to kick into the corner for a 5m lineout but unfortunately, they knocked on. They found themselves on the wrong side of the penalty decision at the resultant scrum. 'Hoppers kicked up field and after another lineout, full time was called.
Tigers came away with 2 bonus points and will feel they let 3 more slip away. The high penalty count in the second half - 10 to 2 against Tigers – seemed to stop any continuity and allowed the visitors to keep clearing their line when they were under pressure. It gets no easier next week with the rearranged fixture against high flying Sedgley Park.

Scorers: Tries:  Symcox Al (1), Wallace (1), Swatkins (1), Hart (1)

Conversions:  Ireland (2)
Penalties:

Team: Bennett, Johnson, Simmons (McDonald), Holland (Mackey), Symcox Al, Wallace (Taylor-Dawes), Rix (Townsend), Bloor,  Holmes, Ireland, Packard, Hart, Broadley, Davidson (Mellor) , Swatkins

Replacements: Townsend, McDonald,  Taylor-Dawes , Mackey, Mellor

Men of the match  - Lewis Bloor & Sam Johnson

Match Report by: Graham Cockshutt