The Hoppers squad to travel to Leicestershire on Saturday shows a number of changes from last week due to unavailability, rotation and injury.
Pete Altham steps up from the bench and Mo Mustafa moves in the other direction, Dave Perry has a place in the second row whilst Sam Wallbank will start in the back three.
With Lewis Allen out for the foreseeable future, Phil Baines moves to fly half, Craig Aikman starts at scrum half, Adam Birchall moves into the centres and Sam Kendall has a place on the wing with Sam Whyte and Brad Tuff taking the vacant seats on the bench.
1 Tom McGuinness, 2 Alan Holmes, 3 Pete Altham, 4 Ally Murray, 5 Dave Perry, 6 Sam Wallbank, 7 Eddie Webster, 8 Dominic Moon (Captain), 9 Craig Aikman, 10 Phil Baines, 11 Anthony Elliott, 12 Jack Ward, 13 Adam Birchall, 14 Sam Kendall, 15 Sean Taylor.
16 Andy Irving, 17 Brad Tuff, 18 Killian Wallace, 19 Mo Mustafa, 20 Sam Whyte.
Hoppers make the long journey to Leicester Lions this coming Saturday hoping to end their five match losing run at one of their least successful venues, just two wins from eight visits. They’ve managed to hold onto a position in the top half of the league so far this season, but there’s a group of five teams now close on their heals and unless Hoppers can turn round there recent run of disappointing results they’ll quickly tumble down the table.
The coaching staff will be hoping the long list of injuries is reduced in time and some of the senior players are up for selection once again. Some idea of the problems this has caused is reflected in the fact that one of only two ever presents suffered a broken collar bone last Saturday. A look at Hoppers line up when the two teams met earlier in the season shows nine players not included in last weeks squad for the Chester fixture.
Last season saw the Leicestershire outfit finish in ninth position and memories of the dour affair at Westleigh Park were completely erased when Hoppers ran in thirteen tries in the return fixture near the end of the season last April. Hoppers won the meeting at Lighfoot Green back in September with tries from Joab Murphy, Matt Hughes and Alan Holmes.
Leicester Lions have had an up and down season to date losing just one more game than their opponents this week and sitting five places below, but a bonus point win this Saturday would take them above Hoppers unless a losing bonus point was obtained.
Fixtures against this coming weekends opponents began relatively recently when the Lions gained promotion into the National Leagues as Champions of Midlands 1 at the end of the 2004/5 season. Since then the share of victories is slightly in Hoppers favour winning nine to the Lions eight of the encounters. Last season’s big home victory for Hoppers and eighty three points haul was just a converted score below their record League performance at Lightfoot Green against Otley the season before.
With Hoppers Seconds having a week off due to the uneven numbers in the Conference, just two sides have home fixtures this coming Saturday after the holiday break plus the Women’s team get back to action on Sunday afternoon;
Hoppers 3 vs. Warrington 2 (Away)
Hoppers 4 vs. Fylde 4 (Away)
Hoppers 5 vs. Leigh 4 (Home)
Hoppers 6 vs. Carnforth 2 (Home)
Hoppers Women vs. Sheffield (Home – Sunday)
Photograph courtesy of Mike Craig.