Harrogate on the road for 1st XV

Date: 29 November 2016

Harrogate vs. Preston Grasshoppers– Kick Off 2:00pm

Preston Grasshoppers head for Yorkshire this Saturday for just their second visit to Harrogate’s new ground in Rudding Park. The fixture is a critical one for both clubs who have accumulated the same number of points with Hoppers sitting just a couple of places higher than their opponents who currently occupy bottom place.

One reason the two clubs are in the situation they currently find themselves in lies with the fact that both playing squads suffered in the same way during the summer , the loss of influential players reflecting on both team’s lowly positions this term.

Hoppers game last week succumbed to the weather with a section of Number 2 pitch not deemed to have thawed out sufficiently when inspected by our opponents Leicester Lions. Hopefully weather issues with the pitch will become something not to concern ourselves with at Lightfoot Green in a few weeks time when the new AGP is up and running.

While Hoppers had an unscheduled rest last weekend, Harrogate took to the road and visited League leaders Caldy’s Paton Field where by all accounts the forty eight points to thirteen reverse didn’t do their performance justice.

Saturday will be viewed by both clubs as a must win game if they are to survive for another season in National 2 North and a look back to last season’s mud bath there sets in motion recollections of a very close affair and in a low scoring game a counter attack after a Hoppers kick ahead putting the home side in for the decisive late score.

This season’s situation for both clubs is rather different to last when Harrogate sat comfortably in mid table just above Hoppers in the league, whilst Saturday’s travelling side travelled with confidence in search of a third consecutive victory after a notable win over Sandal the previous week. The mention of Sandal who were near the top of our league this time last year reminds us that they couldn’t sustain their early season form and ended up in the relegated three with Huddersfield and Broadstreet. With this season not half way through yet, there’s still plenty of time for this Saturday’s protagonists to climb from danger with a win this weekend going a long way to help their current situation.

The Yorkshiremen are one of our more regular opponents since league fixtures began back in 1987. Out of the twenty five matches played, Harrogate have won fifteen to our seven with another three being drawn including both games in the 2000/1 season. Hoppers completed the double in Harrogate’s relegation season and recorded a victory at Claro Road for the first time since the one point victory in 2007/8. In fact this is only the second league victory at this particular part of West Yorkshire out of twelve attempts.

With fixtures going back to the 1954/55 season the full record reads, Hoppers eleven wins against Harrogate’s twenty eight with five ending all square and seven being cancelled for various reasons from a sequence which started back on the 23rd of October 1954 at Claro Road.

Picture courtesy of Mike Craig – Cameron Robinson who scored his first try for Hoppers during their last away fixture at Stourbridge.

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