Billingham Preview

Date: 12 April 2018

Preston Grasshoppers and their loyal band of supporters head off for their longest,  trek of the season this Saturday when they play their final away fixture of the season at a new venue for the club, in the shape of Billingham RFU’s Greenwood Road ground.

Words by Mike Forshaw, photo by Mike Craig

The fixture at Lightfoot Green between the two sides saw the visitors arrive full of confidence before Hoppers put them to the sword with one of their strongest performances against the better sides in this league. Billingham had been in a rich vein of form up until that particular Saturday in early December having recovered from a poor start to the season and sat in fifth place boasting a seven match run of victories.

Hoppers can look forward to playing on the same type of surface they are used to at Lightfoot Green this week, as Billingham were also one of the six RFU pilot schemes for 3G playing surfaces last season.

Billingham had a similar fixture to Hoppers last week when they visited already relegated Pocklington, clocking up fifty points as did Hoppers in putting the final nail in Morley’s relegation coffin at Lightfoot Green.

PJ & Arnie will be urging the squad to continue their six match unbeaten run this Saturday which stretches back to early February and the victory over Rossendale. Everyone at Preston Grasshoppers hopes that the one blip of the season so far at Kirkby Lonsdale will have been the only one come the end of April, although Billingham will be making every effort to foil that ambition!

Up to and until just after the mid point of the season, our hosts were very much in the hunt for promotion, but four defeats from seven games knocked them out of the top group and with it any chance of a challenge. They currently lie in sixth place which is around the same spot they’ve been all season, behind Rossendale who have defeated them twice in recent weeks.

A somewhat unexpected home defeat for Harrogate last week at the hands of Lymm will have been a bitter blow to their hopes of a play-off game at the end of the month and a quick return to National 2 North with Hoppers. The current incumbents of the play-off place Hull, need just three more points from their remaining two games to secure a probable home tie with either Peterborough or Newport. Birmingham Solihull have secured top spot and promotion to Level 4 rugby with ourselves. The make up of N2N is far from clear at the moment and their may well be the need for Level Transfers between North and South to take place once the dust has settled.

As things stand Fylde will be relegated from National 1 together with any two of seven others currently battling for survival. Sale look favourites for promotion to N1 although both Sedgley Park and Tynedale have an outside chance and one of the three will play either Chinnor or Cinderford who are battling things out at the top of the Southern section in the play off fixture. The bottom of N2N sees Luctonians attempting their annual ‘Houdini’ act with six others in danger of the drop.

Billingham and Hoppers 1st XV’s faced each other for the first time earlier this season at Lightfoot Green when the home side ran out winners by a distance of thirty three points and we can be assured the home side will be making every effort to avenge  their heaviest defeat of the season to date. Billingham RUFC started to climb the leagues as Champions of Durham/Northumberland 1 at the end of the 2007/08 season when they moved into North 1 East where they topped the league in 2009/10 and 2011/12 moving to this level where they’ve played their rugby ever since.

The 1869 Club are running a coach to the North East with the usual arrangements plus a stop in Kirkby Stephen on the return journey to meet up with the players. The departure time will be 9:30am from the Clubhouse.

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