Otley 22, Preston Grasshoppers 20
High-scoring Preston were in shock when ace kicker Sean Taylor’s missed conversion in the closing minutes yesterday deprived them of an undeserved SSE National League Two North draw.
They had spurned penalty opportunities in the first half, going for tries instead, only to find Otley in an uncompromising mood.
This was demonstrated at the start as Otley followed their kick-off with fervour, forcing a penalty which was calmly kicked by the much-missed Ben Cooper, and they continued to hammer Hoppers.
They kept the visitors pinned in their own half for the first quarter and extended their lead on 11 minutes when the irrepressible Johnathan Matthews fought his way down the left touchline to go in at the corner, Cooper adding the conversion.
Eventually fighting their way into the home 22, the visitors began to look dangerous but could find no way through until, just before half-time, an adventurous chip ahead out of defence by Otley went awry, Preston running the ball back for No 8 Dominic Moon to score.
One minute after the break, Toby Williams was shown a yellow card, Taylor kicking the penalty but Otley were quickly back and, after two scrums on the line, winger James Wood was put in on the blind-side.
Lock Matthew Stephens then joined Williams in the sin-bin and Preston took advantage, No 7 William Keenan grounding from a forward drive and Taylor levelling with the conversion.
Not to be outdone, Otley came straight back, Wood leaving the defence in his wake as he tore down the touchline.
Cooper added the crucial conversion, which proved to be the difference when Moon added his second try four minutes from time and the conversion sailed wide.