Caldy vs. Preston Grasshoppers – KO 3.00pm
With first team regulars Phil Mills and Ali Murray representing the North U20’s this weekend in a tournament, there’s a starting place for Chris Gale at Hooker and ‘two try’ Alex Austin in the Second Row.
The backs keep the same line up as selected for the last few weeks.
On the bench, recent Sale Sharks débutante Michael Haley sits alongside former 1st XV regular Tom Smith looking to make his first appearance of the season.
With a small amount snow still lying on the playing surface at Paton Field and the ground very wet in places plus below zero temperatures forecast during the night, there’s some doubt about the chances of the game going ahead. Anyone thinking of travelling should keep an eye on the website for any news of a cancellation.
1. Richard Morton, 2. Chris Gale, 3. Andy Irving, 4. Gareth Gore, 5. Alex Austin, 6. Will Keenan, 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. Danny Madden, 17. Brad Tuff, 18. Michael Haley, 19. Karl Fitzpatrick, 20. Tom Smith.
Hoppers find themselves in a similar position to last season before their trip to Paton Field this coming Saturday, where they will be looking to extend an undefeated run of away matches. On that occasion they were successful, extending it with a third consecutive win on the road before setting the target for the current record with a rare victory at Leicester Lions. The other venues for that run were at Otley and Stockport.
Come Easter Saturday, as long as the snow has cleared away from the Wirral, they will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to eight games with an impressive five on the road and record a seventh double of the season.
Paton Field has been a fairly successful venue for Hoppers since their first visit on the 6th of October 2007 when the visitors ran out 20 points to 16 winners, winning three times out of the five meetings.
All Hoppers games at Caldy have been in the last five seasons since their hosts were promoted at the end of 2005/6 with all but one meeting finishing with just four points between the two sides.
At this time last season, Caldy were heading for the play off place, our hosts only missing out on promotion to National 1 after a narrow defeat at the hands of Richmond. Caldy started this season as they finished last, but then went on a long run of games without a victory after an away win against Hull on the last day of September before a tremendous result against previously unbeaten Ionians. Since then the Wirral outfit have blown hot and cold failing to find any consistent form. According to reports they were ravaged by injuries during the first half of the season and on top of that lost a couple of important team members during the summer.
Whilst Caldy finished second to Hoppers third at the end of last season, Preston Grasshoppers and Champions Loughborough Students were the only sides to complete the double over our rivals from Cheshire.
The inaugural senior game between Preston Grasshoppers and Caldy was a pre-season warm-up fixture at Lightfoot Green prior to the 2004/5 season. Caldy had climbed the league ladder with a succession of promotions from the depths of South Lancashire and Cheshire 3, eventually gaining promotion to N2N as Champions of North 1 in 2007.
There have been eleven league meetings between the two clubs, all in consecutive seasons since Caldy’s last promotion, Hoppers just having the edge thanks to the home victory earlier this season.
Just one game being played at Lightfoot Green this coming Saturday when Hoppers Fifths entertain Bolton Thirds.
Coach to Caldy
It isn’t too late for supporters wishing to travel to Caldy with the 1869 Club on their annual ‘Families Day Out’. The Coach is definitely running with a 11.00 start from the Clubhouse so please add your name to the list in the foyer. The cost is £10 with accompanied juniors travelling free of charge. A lunch stop at a country hostelry has been arranged, not far from the ground on the Wirral. Return as usual will be one hour after the final whistle.