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Preston Grasshoppers 34, Wirral 19

THE impressive set up at Preston Grasshoppers (PG) was the venue for the first game at senior level between these sides and was played on their new 4G pitch.

For the first 20 minutes it was Wirral who had the territorial advantage.

Aided by a number of penalties in their favour and after turning down a penalty kick opportunity, Wirral took the lead when a short pass from Paul Lewis put Rob Pearl over under the posts; this was converted by James Annetts.

The power of the PG forwards then came to the fore when new signing, Matt Lamprey crashed over from a 5m scrum.

Three minutes later, full-back Niall Crosley crossed after a 60m break by the PG backs, both converted by Sam Stott.

In the last minute of the first half a penalty from Stott extended the home side's led to 17-7.

After the break the home side increased their lead to 24-7 when Oliver Trippier drove over near the posts.

Wirral, through their fly half and fullback, began to use the wind to good effect with long deft kicks downfield.

On 54minutes, Wirral reduced the deficit with an excellent try from hooker Stuart Gratton.

The conversion reduced the deficit which was cut even further when a third yellow card against the home side; from the resultant penalty James Annetts crossed from close range to bring Wirral within five points of the home team, 24-19.

The last play of the game saw PG score a try bonus point through Matt Lamprey; the conversion gave PG a flattering 34-19 win.

A creditable performance against a well-organised professional side but Wirral will need to put in the same performance next week against unbeaten Harrogate on Saturday (3pm kick off).