1st XV welcome Tynedale

Date: 10 February 2016

After their aborted trip south last Saturday morning, Preston Grasshoppers will be hoping for some dry weather later this week ensuring their home fixture against a resurgent Tynedale can go ahead thus enabling Sean Taylor to make his delayed 150th appearance for Hoppers first fifteen.

Our visitors have suffered far worse than anyone else in our League due to the heavy rainfall since early December with the banks of the river Tyne breaching the defences around their Corbridge ground. Reports are that they won’t get to play on their own turf until next season and I’m sure they’re very grateful Newcastle Falcons have extended the hand of friendship in loaning their facilities. One can only imagine the devastation caused by the flood water and all it brings with it. Opening the clubhouse doors when the levels had subsided must have been a sight none of us would like to see our own properties to look and smell like.

As a gesture of support for our visitors, there will be a bucket collection in aid of the Tynedale Flood Fund on Saturday.

The disaster at their ground together with a change in coaching staff certainly appears to have given the Northumbrian side a boost in results. Their victory over Hoppers back in October was just their second of the season from eight games. Since then they have won six from eleven starts with three of the defeats at the hands of clubs occupying the current top four positions. Tynedale’s record shows that they appear to struggle on the road though, recording just the two victories over Huddersfield and Otley which incidentally came during this second period.

Garth Dew and his players will be anxious to reverse the defeat earlier this season in a game where it was thought they didn’t have the best of the decisions made by the officials of the day. Although it has to be said, the fifteen point lead they had with the game going into first half injury time, both he and Hoppers supporters would think enough to secure victory the way his squad has performed in recent games. Although they won the game at Corbridge, albeit by a narrow margin and a little help from the touch-line, the home side looked the poorest opposition Hoppers had faced this season, something that has obviously changed during the past two months!

Before this season, the last meeting between the two clubs was a pre-season warm up game at Lightfoot Green in 2012 whilst the last league encounter was back in the 2007-2008 season when this weeks visitors did a convincing double over Hoppers on their way to promotion and League Champions, winning twenty four of their twenty six matches in the process.

Tynedale first gained promotion to Level 4 in what was then National 3 North, the same season Hoppers were demoted from National 2 back in 2002 with the first league fixture between the two clubs taking place at Tynedale Park on the 18th of January 2003 when Hoppers gained their last victory at that particular ground in convincing fashion by twenty six points to eight.

The first meeting between Preston Grasshoppers and Tynedale was at Corbridge on the 9th of February 1980 after a fixture the previous season at Lightfoot Green had been cancelled. The victors that day were the home side by twelve points to three.

Since then there have been twenty three meetings between the two clubs plus the previously mentioned pre-season game with a further five fixtures being cancelled including the proposed initial game. Currently Tynedale hold the upper hand with fourteen wins to Hoppers nine. Amongst these there are eight league wins to our opponents and just three to Hoppers with the spoils of the pre-season game going to Hoppers.

Photo by kind permission of Mike Craig – John Mackenzie lines up Stourbridge centre James Otutaha in the recent game at Lightfoot Green against the then high flying Stourbridge.

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