Hinckley vs. Preston Grasshoppers, 2nd November 2019, 4.00pm
Hoppers travel south to play Hinckley this Saturday after a confidence boosting victory over the then top four Stourbridge and hope to take with them inspiration from witnessing England winning their second Rugby World Cup Final?
Last weeks visitors must have thought victory was about to become theirs after fighting back into a game from seventeen points down with a lineout on Hoppers five yard line deep into injury time. With the simple three points (which would almost certainly have given them a share of the spoils) on offer declined they went for the line-out and possible victory. However the ball was overthrown and the rest is history.
Three first half tries and an important penalty from under the posts was enough to see Hoppers home.
Hinckley’s Leicester Road ground is yet another venue Hoppers haven’t tasted victory in recent years. Having visited their twice since the re-location Hoppers are yet to triumph, suffering a humiliating defeat last season before gaining revenge with an emphatic win at Lightfoot Green later in the season.
Looking at their results so far this season, the home side don’t appear to be the force they have been over recent years when they’ve regularly occupied the top half of the table. Success has come this year at home to Luctonians, away at Hull plus Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire last Saturday. Currently three of the bottom four in our league.
Hoppers have played six of the top eight in our league table whilst Hinckley have faced four from that group.
Both sides currently have the same number of points with Hoppers one place above this week’s hosts thanks to a better points difference.
Hinckley returned to Level 4 rugby after securing promotion to National 2 North with a play-off victory over Cheshire side Wirral at the end of the 2015/16 season. Our hosts had led Midlands 1 for the major part of that season only losing top spot after the final league fixture at Scunthorpe who took the spoils together with the title on the day.
Before that promotion, Hinckley last graced this level of the rugby pyramid during 1999 and whilst Hoppers gained promotion at the end of that season our visitors fell back into the Midlands Leagues where they resided until their return a couple of seasons ago.
The Midlands Club played Level 4 rugby in what was then named National 3 North for just two seasons and added to their two previous defeats at Lightfoot Green with Hoppers gathering a rare victory during their 2017/18 relegation season.
All told there have been eight games between the two clubs with the Preston Grasshoppers first appearance at Hinckley being on the 10th of January 1998 when they extended a winning sequence to five games in a seven point victory.
1. John BLANCHARD
2. PJ MILLEA (C)
3. Ryan PURCELL
4. Adam HOWARD
5. Sam WALLBANK
6. Ryan CARLSON
7. Toby HARRISON
8. Matt LAMPREY
9. Jake SQUIRRELL
10. Joe PRIOR
11. Jacob BROWNE
12. Ben DORRINGTON
13. Sam STOTT
14. Scott JORDAN
15. Jordan DORRINGTON
REPLACEMENTS: 16. TAYLOR, 17. MADDEN, 18. PROCTER, 19. CROW, 20. SPENCE