Preston Grasshoppers vs. Bromsgrove – Kick Off 2.30pm
Saturday’s line-up sees Phil Baines move back into the centre in place of Karl Fitzpatrick who starts at ten replacing Sean Long and the return of Matt Hughes on the wing. The forwards line up as at the start of last weeks game at Stockport apart from the rotation of props Gale and Irving between starting line up and bench.
On the bench we see Ali Murray, last weeks ‘Man Of The Match’ for the Seconds make a return to the 1st XV squad and Ian Sibbitt, Hoppers latest Rugby League acquisition have the chance to make his mark.
1. Andy Irving, 2. Phil Mills, 3. Dan Madden, 4. Gareth Gore, 5. Wayne Steel, 6. Conor Murphy, 7. Eddie Webster, 8. Dominic Moon, Captain. 9. Sam Kindred, 10. Karl Fitzpatrick, 11. Matt Hughes, 12. Jack Ward, 13. Phil Baines, 14. Adam Birchall, 15. Sean Taylor.
Replacements: 16. Chris Gale, 17. Alan Holmes, 18. Ali Murray, 19. Will Keenan, 20. Ian Sibbitt.
Bromsgrove will line up:
1. Norris, 2. Green, 3. Salisbury, 4. Meadows, 5. Smith, 6. Hughes, 7. McGregor, 8. Horton, 9. Ward. 10. Copson, 11. Oliver, 12. Lloyd-Jones, 13. Millen, 14. Bache 15. Critchlow.
Replacements: 16. Koziot, 17. Belmonte, 18. Cooper, 19. Brazier, 20. Curgenven.
For a second consecutive Saturday Hoppers play one of National 2 North’s ‘Second Season Clubs’ in the shape of Midlands outfit Bromsgrove against who Michael Lough’s team will be hoping to extend their run of six consecutive victories, the latest of these being last week’s narrowest of wins at struggling Stockport. It isn’t often two teams sharing ninety five points in a game are separated by just one when the final whistle is blown.
The biggest shock last weekend was the way Hoppers usual water tight defence was breached on several occasions at the start of the second half, but a couple of tactical changes mid way through the half got things back on track and a fourteen point deficit was turned around to the eventual single point victory.
Another massive haul of points from Sean Taylor (which included a hat-trick of tries) last week moved him even further ahead of others in the League’s Leading Points Table. The full-back’s hat-trick also moved him joint top of National 2’s try scorers with a total of twelve.
Skipper Dominic Moon was another three try hero last weekend, moving him onto thirty seven league tries from fifty nine appearances, a League try scoring record by a forward for Preston Grasshoppers. Dom’s second try at Stockport moved him one ahead of Richard Morton who previously held the record from one hundred and fifty games. The Captains total points haul since his move here in 2009 now reaches two hundred from just sixty one games.
Talking of try scorers, but in this case someone just starting their Hoppers career, Adam Birchall’s try at Stockport made it three from three for him.
Bromsgrove haven’t started this season as well as last which may be due to the loss of influential players to near neighbours or the old second season fever our opponents last week were obviously suffering from. Never the less, they are sure to provide stiff opposition and Hoppers must keep their focus, steadying things again after last weeks wobble.
This will be just the third meeting between Hoppers and ‘Grove with the game at Finstall Park ending all square and Hoppers winning their home fixture last season the hosts will be looking to keep Bromsgrove ‘locked out’. The only other meeting with this week’s visitors here in Preston, took place over forty years ago at The Lea Ground on the 16th of December 1972. Bromsgrove stepping in to replace a scheduled fixture against Orrell who had a National Cup game that day. The game resulted in a twenty six points to six victory for the home club.
The fixture at Finstall Park was a memorable one ending all square after a game which swung one way then another with the final whistle seeing both teams not wanting to settle for a draw, going all out for another score to seal victory. Whilst the return match at Lightfoot Green was another high scoring affair, Hoppers running out comfortable winners thirty two points to nineteen. So with one hundred and thirteen points scored in the two encounters last season, hopefully we can look forward to another points feast.
Other games being played at Lightfoot Green this week are;
Hoppers 3rds vs. Tyldesley 2
Hoppers 4ths vs. Ormskirk 2
Please note kick off time is now 2.15pm for all home games at Lightfoot Green apart from the 1st XV who kick off at 2.30pm.
On Sunday the Senior Colts host Macclesfield.