Preston Grasshoppers vs. Dudley Kingswinford – Kick Off 2.00pm
With skipper Dominic Moon on temporary loan to Leeds Carnegie, Phil Baines takes over as captain for this weekends encounter with Dudley Kingswinford.
The front row sees Phil Mills returning after suspension and new boy Mo Mustafa making his Hoppers debut whilst Conor Murphy moves to the vacant number eight position and Eddie Webster makes a return to the back row.
A new half back pairing sees Craig Aikman make his home debut with the return of Sean Long at fly half and Karl Fitzpatrick moving back to his preferred role as outside centre. New Skipper Phil Baines returns to his old position on the wing.
1. Mo Mustafa, 2. Phil Mills, 3. Andy Irving, 4. Gareth Gore, 5. Ali Murray, 6. Eddie Webster, 7. Will Keenan, 8. Conor Murphy, 9. Craig Aikman. 10. Sean Long, 11. Phil Baines (Captain), 12. Jack Ward, 13. Karl Fitzpatrick, 14. Matt Hughes, 15. Sean Taylor.
Replacements: 16. Chris Gale, 17. Richard Morton, 18. Killian Wallace, 19. Adam Birchall, 20. Sam Kindred.
With the frozen grounds now hopefully behind us and the prospect of a long awaited home game on the menu, Hoppers will be hoping to add another ‘double’ to this seasons list when Dudley Kingswinford make their first visit to Lightfoot Green since 2004 this coming Saturday.
This Saturday’s visitors have made just a couple of visits to Lightfoot Green in the past, both unsuccessful as were Hoppers on their visits to the Midlands ground prior to October’s success.
The first meetings between Hoppers and DK took place in back-to-back fixtures during 2003, the scheduled fixture at Lightfoot Green during mid January falling foul of the weather before the two games eventually took place during March. Hoppers won at home by nineteen points to five before losing narrowly by just four points the following Saturday at Heathbrook.
Dudley Kingswinford were promoted from Midlands 1 at the end of last season by means of a narrow home victory over Rossendale in the National 3 play off game. Their return to National 2 has been a case of acclimatisation but after grabbing just one win from their first eight games they have been successful in half of the last ten plus a drawn game against Huddersfield. So it’s plain to see they’ve settled into National 2 a fact which was confirmed in their last fixture when they inflicted a rare defeat for Darlington Mowden Park in a home game that was something of a close affair by all accounts with the winning try coming at the very end of the game.
Although our visitors sit in the bottom third of the table, and will no doubt post a long list of injured and unavailable players as they appear to have suffered from all season long but they mustn’t be underestimated, especially in the tight where if what we saw on our visit last year is still the force, their moderately sized pack are very well drilled at the set piece.
After a blank weekend for all Hoppers sides last week, everyone will be hoping for the recent bad weather to subside and get back to action. The other games scheduled for Lightfoot Green this coming weekend involve the 2nd XV who entertain Burnage and the 6th XV who host Carnforth.
The 3rd XV travel to Crewe & Nantwich in the quarter final of the cup whilst the 4th XV are also on the road at Burnage in their quarter final. The 5th XV are away at Blackburn in league action
Sunday will see our Women entertain Southport in a North 1 fixture while the Colts are scheduled to play Lancashire County Cup ties. However the recent bad weather has caused a backlog and the delayed Senior’s First Round (in which we received a bye) is scheduled for this Sunday so we await results to see who they draw in the next round. Meanwhile our Junior Colts are through to the Third stage of their competition and are due to visit Liverpool St Helens this coming Sunday.
England vs Scotland 4pm
The 1st XV game has been brought forward by 30 minutes in the hope that people will join us in the bar to watch the start of the RBS Six Nations.
England host Scotland at Twickenham with kick off at 4pm. The game will be shown on the big screen in the Dooley Suite.