Forwards help Ionians get back on title track as Hull’s battle to beat the drop continues

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HULL Ionians maintained their promotion push with a hard-fought 29-25 win at Preston Grasshoppers.

Scrum-half Sam Kindred’s 19th-minute try was converted by stand-off Lewis Allen, who added a penalty five minutes later to help put the hosts 10-0 ahead.

Ionians hit back through second-row Joe Makin, Isaac Green adding the conversion.

A 35th-minute penalty from scrum-half Green levelled the scores, before Allen crashed over and converted his own try late in the first half to put Grasshoppers 17-10 ahead at the break.

Ionians came out strongly in the second half, and were back level with No 8 Dan Hague’s try being converted by Green.

Ten minutes later, flanker Joe Sanders crashed over to put Ionians in the lead for the first time, and second-row Joe Makin added another on 71 minutes, Chris Reakes converting to put his side 29-17 ahead.

Grasshoppers earned a losing bonus point through Scott Jordan’s 74th-minute try.

Otley, led out by Ben Steele on his 250th appearance, had 18-year-old fly-half Charles Parker making an impressive debut in their 26-26 home draw against Caldy.

The visitors turned a 12-point deficit into a 26-12 lead before Freddie Watson and back-row partner Matthew Heaton touced down and Stephen Depledge converted both.

Tries from Otley prop George Burkinshaw and full-back Harry Hudson had been responded to by tries from Caldy No 8 Stuart Cross before the break and others from full-back Dominic Kohler (2)and scrum-half Ben Jonesstraight after it.

Hull’s impressive turnaround continued as they beat Leicester Lions 27-0 at home.

At Christmas, they looked to be heading for relegation but they have turned it around since.

Winger Steve Hihetah got Hull off the mark and man-of-the-match Greg Lound kicked a penalty before Phil Eggleshaw scored tries either side of the break, new signing Jamie Foster converting one and another try from centre Ali Heard.

Weakened Harrogate were in contention until two late converted tries helped hosts and in-form Sedgley Park to a 43-25 home win.

Lewis Minikin soon scored a fine try, converted by Joe Rowntree, before Park hooker Dave Blackwell scored an unconverted try in the corner.

No 8 Matt Lamprey burst through to create space for Matt Riley to score a try which he converted. Rowntree’s penalty made it 12-10 and Leadley’s try put Harrogate ahead but Andy Riley’s try made it 17-15 at half-time.

Tries from flanker Rhys Davies and prop Max Ashcroft sandwiched a penalty from Rowntree before Willem Enslin scored a converted try from a driving maul. Late home pressure resulted in two converted tries from Liam West and Chris Parrott.

A flat second-half display brought Huddersfield’s six-match winning run to an end as they slipped to a 25-21 defeat at Broadstreet.

A 6-3 lead after 16 minutes, with penalties from fly-half Joel Hinchliffe, was built upon when flanker Ben Hoyle crossed. A penalty made Huddersfield’s half-time lead 16-3.

A converted try cut the lead and a second score, when Nick Thatcher cut through and Ben Palmer converted, saw the visitors behind. A third try followed on 62 minutes from No 8 Matt Gibbons.

Palmer converted before adding a penalty to make it 25-16. With four minutes remaining, Huddersfield’s hopes were raised when Nick Sharp crashed over but the hosts held on.