Dudley Kingswinford vs. Preston Grasshoppers – Kick Off 3.00pm
After recording their biggest score and largest winning margin last Saturday against reportedly an in form Hull side, it’s not surprising to learn the squad remains the same for the trip to Dudley Kingswinford on Saturday.
The only alteration is at scrum half where Sam Whyte is given his first start for Hoppers after making appearances off the bench after his promotion from the Second Fifteen whilst Craig Aikman takes a turn amongst the replacements.
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 Lewis Allen.
16 Alan Holmes, 17 Richard Morton, 18 Will Lees, 19 Oli Farley, 20 Craig Aikman.
Preston Grasshoppers will head to Dudley Kingswinford in the heart of the Black Country this coming Saturday in good spirits after a resounding victory over Hull last week at Lightfoot Green. A free flowing display gave Hoppers their first home victory of the year and a first since defeating this week’s opponents back in November last year, and in so doing ending a run of five consecutive defeats at Lightfoot Green.
Skipper Dominic Moon will be hoping to celebrate his 100th League Game for Hoppers with a second consecutive victory and possibly adding to his fifty four try haul for the club at Heathbrook come Saturday.
The first meetings between Preston Grasshoppers and Dudley Kingswinford 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.
This Saturday’s opponents are playing in their second season in National 2 North since they were promoted from Midlands 1 at the end of the 2011/12 season by means of a narrow home victory over Rossendale in the National 3 play off game. However, it’s going to be their last for at least one season after a disastrous run of defeats which sees them without a win since last April.
The Midlands club are currently firmly rooted to the foot of the table without a win to their name and have suffered a number of high scoring defeats. Survival in National 2 North is now beyond their reach but they’ll be hoping for at least one success to avoid the first fully blank season in this league since Manchester suffered a run of 30 defeats in 2010/11.
Although our hosts are yet to post a victory this season, they at least appear to have kept a good spirit amongst the playing staff and will be hoping to bounce back as quickly as possible next season.
If the current RFU re-organisation proposals are passed at next month’s Council Meeting, Dudley Kingswinford could however find themselves back playing Level 4 rugby in the 2015/16 season without the aid of promotion. If this came to fruition the two teams wouldn’t be meeting in league action though, as four twelve team regional leagues would come into play with a cup competition helping fill some of the blank Saturdays.
With the aid of a little foresight, our colleagues in National 2 North at the start of the 2015/16 season could be the following:-
Sedgley Park, Harrogate, Otley, Caldy, Tynedale, Hull, Hull Ionians, Sandal, Stockport, Huddersfield & Sale FC.
The bonus’, less travelling and fewer games for the players against a big loss of revenue for the clubs by the way of losing four home league fixtures balanced against a cup competition that with a regional pool system to start, only guarantees at least one home game.
A downside to the proposed new structure will be in that winning your league doesn’t automatically result in promotion to Level 3. A play-off between the four top clubs will determine which two jump up a level.
Two clubs are set to be relegated from National 1 at the end of each season and filtered into the four National 2 leagues with two relegated from each of these.
There’s also a balancing act to take place as part of the proposal is to reduce the numbers of the Level 3 league from sixteen to fourteen. Presumably the change in numbers will be phased over a couple of seasons.
A plus for the proposed regionalised leagues would be that the 1869 Club would have more games within their travelling range, something I’m sure Hoppers supporters would welcome.
It must be pointed out that the vast majority of NCA clubs don’t want such a radical change or a cup competition and big reduction of games. Regional Meetings regarding the impending possible change are ongoing and the Preston Grasshoppers website will keep it’s supporters abreast of the latest developments.
Fixtures for Hoppers other senior sides this coming weekend;
Hoppers 2 vs. Sale FC 2 (Home)
Hoppers 3 vs. Broughton Park 2 (Home)
Hoppers 4 vs. Orrell 2 (Home) CANCELLED
Hoppers 5 vs. Blackburn 3 (Away)
Hoppers 6 vs. Ormskirk 4 (Home)
Coach to Caldy
The ‘1869’ Club is running a coach to the final League game of the season at Caldy on Sat 5th April 2014.
Departure Time: 11am
Lunch to be taken en route.
If you would like to travel please put your name on the list in the clubhouse or contact Les Harrison on 01772 863774.
Lets hope for a great turnout for out our last trip of the season!
Picture courtesy of Mike Craig