Sedgley Park vs. Preston Grasshoppers
Preston Grasshoppers travel to North Manchester, and more specifically Park Lane the home of Sedgley Park rugby club for their next National 2 North league fixture this coming Saturday.
Our hosts currently sit just one place above Hoppers in the league table, simply by the fact they have won one more game than ourselves and have a better scoring points difference although both clubs share the same number of League Points.
Hoppers will be looking to get back to winning ways after a couple of reversals have been something of a setback since a run of three wins during early December. Our hosts have won just twice during the same period, victories on home soil over South Leicester and Wharfedale plus a loss to Fylde with defeat on the road at Chester and last week at Otley.
After being in contention for promotion over the last five seasons, finishing either as runners up, third or fourth, Sedgley Park currently find themselves in an unusual mid table position. Therefore they will be keen to continue their recent successful home run against Hoppers and make a move back to a more familiar position in the league table, something Hoppers will hope to bring to an abrupt end.
Earlier in the season in the corresponding game at Lightfoot Green (pictured above), Hoppers appeared to show too much early respect to the visitors who held a nineteen point lead after just twenty minutes. The home side clawed their way back into the contest and held a slender two point lead early in the second period only for the visitors to add to their tally and eventually take the spoils by a five point margin.
Park Lane hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Preston Grasshoppers over the league seasons and apart from their Lancashire Cup Final triumph over West Park, they haven’t won a game there in the last five visits. In fact their most recent league win was back on the 3rdof October 1998! Add to this a Lancashire Cup tie reversal and this particular part of North Manchester certainly hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Hoppers. The nearest they have come to a recent win at that particular ground was back in 2014 when, if memory serves me correctly, former Hopper Juan Crous spoiled the party scoring a late try under the posts with the conversion snatching a two point victory!
Encounters with our hosts from Greater Manchester commenced just about ten years after our move from Lea to Fulwood with an away game and victory by twelve points to six. Sedgley had stepped into a vacant Easter Saturday fixture date on the 2ndof April 1983 after Blackburn had pulled out and the event started a short run of fixtures for just three years all of which were won by Hoppers.
The next time the two clubs met was in the first ever League fixture which was played at Park Lane back in 1997 when Hoppers continued their winning ways with a narrow twenty points to sixteen victory. Hoppers went on to complete the double that season and it wasn’t until we played a Lancashire Cup tie at Lightfoot Green during the 2000/2001 season that ‘Park achieved a victory over Preston Grasshoppers, something that was repeated in league form at the double during the following season when Hoppers were relegated from National 1. Sedgley Park however remained at Level 3 and apart from a number of Lancashire Cup ties and a pre-season fixture during 2011, the two teams hadn’t met again in league action until the 2013/14 season.
The complete playing record between the two club’s 1stXV’s shows that the three Club games back in the 1980’s were all won by Hoppers who have fourteen league wins to their name with ‘Park’ recording one more. Lancashire Cup clashes stand in Hoppers favour by four to three and a pre-season game played at Lightfoot Green back in 2011 turned out to be a comprehensive victory for the visitors. So apart from that game, there have been twenty five matches played in all between the two clubs, Hoppers winning fourteen to Sedgley Park’s eleven.
Paul Arnold makes 3 changes to his starting XV for the trip to Sedgley with Chris Roddy returning in the second row. This allows Ryan Carlson to pack down at openside flanker. In the backs there is a new centre partnership with Sam Stott and Alex Hurst pairing up. The bench sees the welcome return of back Scott Jordan who returns after several weeks on the injury list following a leg injury sustained earlier in the season.
1. Oga MABAYA
2. PJ MILLEA
3. Peter ALTHAM
4. Adam HOWARD
5. Chris RODDY
6. Ally MURRAY
7. Ryan CARLSON
8. Matt LAMPREY
9. James GOUGH
10. Thomas DAVIDSON
11. Conor TRUEMAN
12. Sam STOTT
13. Alex HURST
14. Tyler SPENCE
15. Nathan POPE
16. Olli TRIPPIER
17. Noah MILLER
18. Luke PROCTER
19. James FITZPATRICK
20. Scott JORDAN