Kirkby Lonsdale 17-12 Preston Grasshopppers

Gareth Gore at a lineout.
Gareth Gore at a lineout.

Kirkby Lonsdale inflicted the first defeat of the season on Preston Grasshoppers on Saturday in what was an impressive display by the hosts at Underley Park.

The Hoppers applied the early pressure and good work down their right touchline put Scott Jordan over near the corner flag for the first try, the conversion was wide but the visitors led 5-0 after twelve minutes.

Kirkby started to get a foothold in the game and a Hoppers clearance kick was caught, fed inside and run back by Scott Armstrong who broke a tackle to charge into the twenty two.

Ben Walker was running the inside channel and he took the well-timed pass to canter over behind the posts, Tom Pickthall’s conversion taking Kirkby into a 7-5 at the end of the first quarter.

Things started to get heated on the pitch, with yellow cards for Kirkby’s Walker and Hoppers’ Jordan, and moments later Pickthall joined his captain on the bench, but despite their numerical disadvantage Kirkby looked the more likely to score, but they couldn’t add to their advantage before half time.

The second half was a mighty affair, Hoppers picked up another yellow card when their number four took a Kirkby player out in the air but again the man advantage didn’t count.

There was a long period of pressure from the visitors in the Kirkby twenty two which looked like it would produce a score, chances came and went as heroic defending kept them out and the ball eventually fell loose near the Kirkby line and into the hands of Walker.

He darted through a gap and was away down the left and over the halfway line, cover closed in but a sweetly timed pass inside to Harry Huddleston cut out the last defender and put the young winger in by the posts, Pickthall’s conversion extending the lead to 14-5 with 20 minutes to play.

A long range Pickthall penalty nudged the lead out further to 17-5 before a converted Paul Arnold try for Hoppers closed it to 17-12 with ten minutes on the clock.

The pendulum then swung Hoppers’ way when they were awarded a penalty, an easy touch kick to the left corner and a catch and drive would have done it but as players regained their feet, Hoppers’ Sam Gale was red carded for stamping.

The referee then reversed the penalty, Kirkby cleared to touch, won their lineout and ran the clock down for a very famous victory.