Hinckley vs. Preston Grasshoppers
Hoppers travel south to play Hinckley this Saturday after a confidence boosting victory over a lowly placed but tenacious Peterborough Lions last week.
The victory margin could have been a lot wider if more of the chances that were cleverly created had been taken. On the other hand, the coaches will be heartened watching the Hoppers defence perform much better than in recent weeks.
Winning their first six games saw Hinckley challenging for the top of the league during the first part of the season but they have faded somewhat in recent weeks losing three of the last five which culminated in last weeks defeat at Otley’s Cross Green ground. Ourgame at Otley was one of a number this season that Hoppers should have won comfortably, so with that in mind they will travel to the Midlands with a certain amount of confidence.
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.
Preston Grasshoppers last, and first visit to Hinckley’s new set up at Leicester Road brought with it their one and only defeat at the hands of the Leicestershire side.
All told there have been six games between the two clubs with the Hoppers first appearance at Hinckley being on the 10thof January 1998 when they extended a winning sequence to five games in a seven point victory. The visitor’s scorers on the day were Iain Bruce, Neil Ashton, Rob Smith and Josh Williams with Rob Smith’s conversion attempts successful on just one occasion.
With forty nine 1stXV appearances under his belt, Luke Proctor (pictured above with ball) will make his fiftieth when next donning a Hoppers shirt, very probably this Saturday at Hinckley. Luke made his debut in the final game of the 2012/13 season against Luctonians at Lightfoot Green on the 11thof May. During his time playing for the firsts Luke has scored seven tries and is an ‘ever present’so far this season. Well done Luke!
Another notable achievement was Matt Crow making his first start for Hoppers last week in the win against Peterborough Lions after coming off the bench in a number of games this season.
Photo by Mike Craig
Hoppers make one enforced change for the trip to Hinckley with Chris Roddy, who following injury makes his first appearance of the season in place of the injured Ally Murray. Jack Edwards comes on to the bench in place of Head Coach Paul Arnold.
1. Oga Mabaya
2. PJ Millea (C)
3. Peter Altham
4. Luke Procter
5. Chris Roddy
6. Adam Howard
7. Rouban Birch
8. Matthew Lamprey
9. James Gough
10. Thomas Davidson
11. Conor Trueman
12. James Fitzpatrick
13. Sam Stott
14. Matt Crow
15. Tyler Spence
16. Noah Miller
17. Oliver Trippier
18. Jack Edwards
19. Brad Cave
20. Alex Ward