1st XV head to Sale FC

Date: 27 December 2015

Preston Grasshoppers league programme for 2016 begins with a visit to Sale FC’s home at the end of Heywood Road. This will be the visitors first game there at senior level since Good Friday 1991 when the home side ran out comfortable winners by thirty points to four and a venue where Hoppers haven’t had any success in the couple of visits since Sale moved there in 1905.

To find Hoppers only success against the Cheshire side at Sale you have to go back over one hundred years to the 18th of January 1902, the visitors winning the day by sixteen points to six when the local cricket ground was Sale’s home.

The home game against Sedgley Park marked the half way stage of the season and a look back shows the last two months more productive than September and October with Hoppers losing only one of the last five games against just two wins and a draw from the earlier part of the season’s eight games. This shows progress is being made, with confidence growing week on week amongst the squad of players reflected in the recent good run of results.

Hoppers will be hoping to take up from where they left off in their last game of 2015 at a soggy Lightfoot Green when high flying Sedgley Park were soundly beaten, something the scoreline didn’t quite reflect. The home side dominated possession for most of the game holding the upper hand in the scrum and had two Sean Taylor penalties which struck a post passed inside, the visitors would have been denied their losing bonus point.

Before this seasons opening home game against Sale and a pre-season practice game at Lightfoot Green in 2013, our last fixture with the Cheshire outfit was on Good Friday at the Sale ground back in 1991 when the home team handed out a bit of a thrashing thirty points to four and although fixtures between the two clubs have been few and far between, they go a long way back with the first meeting being played at West Cliff on the 1st of November 1884 when the home side ran out winners.

Sale’s climb up the leagues saw them promoted from North West 1 a couple of seasons ago before moving into National 2 North as Champions of National 3 North last season. With the Cheshire sides close links with the break-away Premiership side Sale Sharks they’d be hoping to proceed with their climb up the National Leagues although this effort appears to have temporarily stalled with Sale currently lying just one place behind Hoppers on the same points but having played one game more.

In all Hoppers 1st XV and Sale/Sale ‘A’ have faced each other in thirteen fixtures with the Cheshire side winning on five occasions to Preston Grasshoppers nine. There have been three pre-season practice games recently with Sale & Sale Jets having the advantage two to one, and over the years there have been three fixtures cancelled.

Photograph courtesy of Mike Craig – Billy Woof breaks the Sale defenders tackles earlier in the season at Lightfoot Green.

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