Gate grab Grasshoppers win

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Harrogate returned 25-15 winners from Preston Grasshoppers in National Two North on Saturday, moving up to seventh in the table.

Early home pressure led to a well-deserved 7-0 lead and thereafter, a weakened Harrogate side gradually took almost complete control and went comfortably ahead.

With full time looming, Preston got a consolation try by seizing on a loose clearance kick.

At the start, Harrogate lost possession after an unconvincing midfield dummy and Preston mounted attacks.

Full back Sean Taylor left defenders floundering and delivered a well timed scoring pass to winger Conor Trueman.

The impressive Lloyd Davies’s conversion made it 7-0 after nine minutes.

Continued Preston attacks were well contained by Harrogate’s defence and Joe Rowntree set up a counter attack by plucking a high kick out of the grasp of his opposite number on the wing.

Callum Irvine’s break was then brilliantly taken on by Sam Bottomley.

Harrogate’s outstanding full back Lewis Minikin supported well and outstripped the defence to score in the corner.

The Harrogate attacking machine was now working well with a dominant scrum producing a stream of good ball.

Dan Metcalfe gave a powerhouse performance in tight and loose play with Aarin Yorke’s speedy incursions a constant threat.

The workhorses, Jake Brady and Tim Heaton consistently tore into the heart of Hopper’s defence with Noel Minikin and, debutant Steve Dewsnip grafting for loose ball.

Danny Matthews’ quick scrum half breaks were a constant threat and repeated backs attacks continued.

Harrogate eventually went ahead from a smoothly taken Irvine drop goal.

Attacking Preston play followed but Harrogate won turnover ball and Steve Parsons made a powerful break.

Matthews was in support and his deceptive speed took him clear of the defence to score in the right corner. Rowntree converted brilliantly from the touchline.

The second half started with Harrogate making a mess of the restart kick and Preston mounted attacks.

Harrogate’s defence contained them well but replacement prop, Will Dutton went offside, was dispatched to the sin bin and Davies kicked a penalty goal.

A searing Lewis Minikin break from defence put Harrogate back on the offensive and the Hoppers were penalised for a deliberate knock-on.

Rowntree’s kick restored the eight-point lead.

Harrogate’s final score came from a mesmerising Irvine run where he dummied his way through for an under the posts converted try.

Preston’s final consolation was created by Davies who counter attacked strongly from a loose kick. Replacement flanker, Luke Proctor crashed over in the corner.

Preston Grasshoppers: Taylor, Trueman, Baines, Ward, Kendall, Davies, Aikman (Whyte 40), Irving, Mills (Wilkinson 3), Altham (Madden 39), Wallbank, Murray, Wallace (Webster 40), Lees (Proctor 69), Moon.

Harrogate: L Minikin, Parsons, Dench, Bottomley (Audsley-Beck 78), Rowntree (Edwards 78), Irvine,

Matthews (Wickham 67), Metcalfe (Dutton 51), Yorke, Reaveley (Browne 47), Brady, Wilson, Dewsnip, N Minikin, Heaton

Referee: Graham Dickens (RFU)