Preston Grasshoppers vs. Birmingham Solihull – Kick Off 2.30pm
Sean Long’s availability after his end-of-season holiday is the only change from last weeks starting line up while Lewis Allen takes over the 10 jersey for the seconds after scoring his second first team try at Westoe last Saturday.
The ‘Bench’ sees two changes from last week. Alex Austin looking to make his first appearance of the season replaces Ally Murray and Eddie Webster returns after his impressive debut three weeks ago against Ionians while Matt Gargett is given some game time starting for the Seconds.
1. Andy Irving, 2. Alan Holmes, 3. Chris Gale, 4. Gareth Gore, 5. Wayne Steel, 6. Conor Murphy, 7. Kilian Wallace, 8. Dominic Moon, Captain. 9. Sam Kindred. 10. Sean Long, 11. Matt Hughes, 12. Jack Ward, 13. Michael Haley, 14. Phil Baines, 15. Sean Taylor.
Replacements: 16. Phil Mills, 17. Richard Morton, 18. Alex Austin, 19. Eddie Webster 20. Josh Purnell.
After gaining ample revenge for last season’s reverse at Westoe on Saturday, Hoppers welcome Birmingham Solihull’s return to Lightfoot Green after a twelve year excursion into the upper levels of league rugby.
The last time the two clubs met was in the Powergen Trophy at Lightfoot Green back in the 2001/2 season when the Midlanders gave the home team a sound beating by fifty nine points to fifteen. This was during a period of ascendancy for the Bees after they had gained promotion two seasons before and given Hoppers a couple of heavy defeats on their departure whilst Hoppers were coming to terms with National 1 rugby in their first season at that level.
Not only have Birmingham Solihull been on an adventure in the upper leagues, they have also had a name and couple of home changes after planning problems and subsequent liquidation forced them away from the 1869 Club nightmare that was Sharman’s Cross Road (more of that particular tale when the two clubs meet again later in the season) Portway is their new home, or should we say their new old home!
The ground adjacent the M42 was the home of the old Birmingham club before they amalgamated with Solihull back in 1989.
Add to this that they have added ‘Limited’ to their name and dropped the word ‘Football’ recently and you will realise they have had a complicated existence over the last twenty three years.
So rather than the usual past record of Hoppers fixtures against one club, this weeks statistics take in three different teams.
Dealing with the oldest fixtures first, 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 here 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.
So if you gather all the various teams that can be associated with this weeks opponents under one collective, both parties have won thirteen apiece with a couple of drawn games thrown in for good measure.
Our visitors have made something of a shaky start to the season with just one win to their name from five outings, that being on their travels when they defeated Leicester Lions by over forty points. So although Hoppers will be looking to make a start climbing from their mid table position, things won’t be made easy by the Midlands outfit.
Other games at Lightfoot Green, kicking off at 3pm, this coming weekend:
Hoppers 5th’s vs. Rossendale 3
Hoppers 6th’s vs. Chorley 3
Sunday will see our Women’s XV entertain local rivals Leigh whilst the Junior Colts have a home fixture against Wirral. Check the noticeboard and website for kick off times.