Bromsgrove vs. Preston Grasshoppers– Kick Off 3.00pm
Killian Wallace comes into the back row to replace Will Keenan and will be ‘keen’ to make a big impression and claim the number seven slot once again.
The backs line up as last week, but the bench sees the return of last seasons skipper Wayne Steel and a débutante in Ollie Farley
1. Richard Morton,2. Phil Mills, 3. Andy Irving, 4. Gareth Gore, 5. Ali Murray, 6. Andy Napier, 7. Killian Wallace,8. Dominic Moon. Captain, 9. Craig Aikman. 10. Lewis Allen,11. Adam Birchall, 12. Jack Ward, 13. Phil Baines, 14. Matt Hughes, 15. Sean Taylor.
Replacements: 16. Brad Tuff, 17. Mo Mustafa, 18. Wayne Steel, 19. Ollie Farley, 20. Josh Purnell.
After emphatically sweeping aside an in-form Stockport outfit last Saturday, Hoppers move on with the cushion of a five match unbeaten run behind them and look forward to journeying south of Birmingham, into Worcestershire to Bromsgrove RFC for their second only visit to the Finstall Road ground. It’s reported that the Midlands club are playing their home games on a second pitch at the moment whilst the main playing area is recovering from having new drains laid so Hoppers will be looking forward to extending their unbeaten run to six on the trot on new soil so to speak.
Bromsgrove didn’t start their second season at Level 4 very well which may have been due to the loss of influential players to near neighbours winning just twice in their first ten outings. Their form has improved since a narrow defeat at Lightfoot Green however, losing just four times in the last thirteen outings. Two of these defeats came on the back of a terrific away win at Stourbridge which took away the home team’s 100% record on a day when the home supporters had rallied round to clear the pitch of snow and make it the only game to be played in the National Leagues that Saturday.
If last season’s memorable game at Finstall Park is anything to go by, this weekend’s encounter should be a cracker. Last years match ended all square after a game which swung one way then another with the final whistle seeing both teams not wanting to settle for a draw and going all out for another score to seal victory. Whilst the return match at Lightfoot Green was another high scoring affair, this season’s game at Preston was won by the home team by the margin of a penalty goal with a very late try grabbing the victory plus a four try bonus point.
This will be just the fourth league meeting between Hoppers and ‘Grove, so with the game at Finstall Park last season ending all square and Hoppers winning both their home fixtures the visitors will be looking to keep their unbeaten record intact. The only other meeting with this week’s opponents was in Preston, and took place over forty years ago at The Lea Ground on the 16th of December 1972. Bromsgrove stepped in to replace a scheduled fixture against Orrell who had a National Cup game that day and the game resulted in a twenty six points to six victory for the home club.
Hoppers second XV moved back to the top of the Bateman Premier league last Saturday after their victory at Macclesfield gave them a far better points margin over the hosts. This coming Saturday sees them with a fixture against Chester 2’s at Lightfoot Green while the fourth team have a fixture against Ormskirk 2nds and the sixths will be hoping to get back to winning ways with a fixture against Tyldesley 3rd’s.
Anyone looking for a game to watch on Sunday might like to make the journey to Manchester and Broughton Park where Hoppers Senior Colts have a Lancashire Cup Second Round tie.