Preston Grasshoppers vs. Birmingham Solihull – Kick Off 2.30pm
Head Coach Michael Lough names an almost unchanged starting fifteen from the one which took the field for last weeks game in the Midlands, with the only change being the return of Lloyd Davies at stand off. Lewis Allen drops to the bench and Tom McGuinness replaces the unfortunate Richie Morton who will have to wait at least another week to make his two hundredth appearance.
1 Danny Madden, 2 Phil Mills, 3 Pete Altham, 4 Ally Murray, 5 Andy Irving, 6 Sam Wallbank, 7 Kilian Wallace, 8 Dominic Moon (Captain), 9 Sam Whyte, 10 Lloyd Davies, 11 Sam Kendall, 12 Jack Ward, 13 Phil Baines, 14 Conor Trueman, 15 Sean Taylor.
16 Alan Holmes, 17 Lewis Allen, 18 Will Lees, 19 Tom McGuinness, 20 Craig Aikman
One player who will be hoping to make the squad this Saturday will be Rich Morton who’s had something of an in-out season due to a reoccurring injury problem. Richard has in fact battled his way through various injuries during his long career at Hoppers and in so doing defied more than one Head Coach with his resilience and as a result he clocked up his one hundred and ninety ninth appearance for the First Fifteen last week at Dudley Kingswinford.
Richard arrived at Hoppers early in the 2002/2003 season from the Manchester club during Alex Keay’s first season, making his debut at Scunthorpe on the 12th of October and in doing so helped Hoppers record their first victory in twenty one outings!
Richard’s try the other week against Hull not only raised the biggest cheer of the day but pushed his points scoring tally over the two hundred mark. The records show he has accumulated 202 points during his time at Lightfoot Green, scoring 40 tries plus kicking a conversion at Birkenhead Park during Hoppers season in North 1.
The response he drew from the crowd in scoring that latest try is testament to the Rich warmth of feeling he draws from people at Preston Grasshoppers.
Well done Richard!
It’s not only Richard who’ll be celebrating a milestone this Saturday as Player Coach Alan Holmes is due to make his fiftieth appearance for Hoppers plus Ally Murray reaches fifty league games. Lets’ hope all three have as successful a day as Dominic Moon last Saturday when he clocked up one hundred league games with his fifty second try at Dudley Kingswinford putting the icing on the cake.
Hoppers will be hoping to extend their winning run against Birmingham Solihull next Saturday after another comprehensive victory in the Black Country last weekend. In ‘shutting out’ Dudley Kingswinford (the last time was the first game of last season against Darlington Mowden Park) with their biggest winning margin of the season, the home side will want to keep up the momentum and will recall almost pipping the visitors at Portway earlier in the season after giving the home side a twenty two point start.
Games against Birmingham RFC began back on the 9th of September 1967 when Hoppers travelled south defeating the home side by seventeen points to three and upsetting Birmingham’s celebrations after the opening of their new ground. A total of twelve contests took place before the amalgamation with Solihull, Hoppers winning five including the one and only league match at Portway to the Midlanders seven successes.
Games against the now defunct Solihull rugby club began on the 7th of October 1978 at Lightfoot Green with the home team beginning an undefeated run of five games against this particular opposition. These games included one drawn game and the only league meeting between the two sides a couple of seasons before the merger.
Once Birmingham Solihull was formed things went well for the Hoppers winning the first three meetings before a drawn game during the 1995/6 season turned things round, our opponents going on to win all but one of the seven games to follow until Hoppers victory at Lightfoot Green earlier this season.
So if you gather all the various teams that can be associated with next weeks opponents under one collective results couldn’t be any closer with both teams winning fourteen games each plus a couple of drawn encounters.
Other senior games being played this coming week are;
Hoppers 2 vs. Fylde 2 – Away
Hoppers 3 vs. Widnes 2 – Away
Hoppers 4 vs. Sale 3 – Away
Hoppers 5 vs. Aspull 1 – Home
Hoppers 6 vs. Blackpool 1 – Away
Pictures courtesy of the Mike’s Forshaw & Craig