Preston Grasshoppers head to Yorkshire this weekend to take on Wharfedale at The Avenue.
Wharfedale come into the game having won 24-5 at Scunthorpe last time out with their other win coming on the opening day at home to Otley. The Yorkshire side have also recorded a couple of defeats at Sedgley Park and whilst hosting Fylde.
Hoppers supporters will be hoping to avoid a repeat of last seasons performances against Dale when the Yorkshire side recorded wins both home (39-22) and away (14-15) to complete the double over the Lightfoot Green men.
Leading points scorers for Wharfedale include Jack Blakeney-Edwards (ex Otley and Darlington MP) who has 14 points in the campaign and Ralph Wellock who has thus far registered 2 tries. The man Hoppers supporters may be most familiar with is Player/Director of Rugby Rob Baldwin who is a Wharfedale legend having racked up 280 appearances for the club. After spells at both Otley and Yorkshire Carnegie, Rob has returned to the club featuring in 3 games to date and scoring 2 tries.
Hoppers and Wharfedale have met in League action on just twelve occasions in the past with the Yorkshire side leading the way with eight wins against Hoppers four. Before the two clubs met each other in League action, there were four Club Games, the first of these taking place at Lightfoot Green back on the 1st of April 1991 when our opponents went under the name of Upper Wharfedale in the fixture book and whilst Hoppers were competing in National 3 North, our opponents league fixtures took place two levels below in North 2. A sign of things to come from the Yorkshire club came with the visitors achieving a narrow victory on the day by ten points to four. In the return fixture the following season in Yorkshire, Hoppers recorded their first victory at that venue by eighteen points to twelve.
Apart from the pre-season practice game over in The Dales prior to the 2009/10 season in which the home side came out winners by thirty eight points to twenty one, there have been sixteen matches played between the two clubs at 1st XV level with Wharfedale leading the way by twelve wins to Hoppers five.
Hoppers are forced into a change in the pack with Ally Murray out injured so Sam Wallbank comes into the side for his first start since rejoining the club. The other change from the Sheffield Tigers game sees skipper PJ Millea drop to the replacements bench and replaced by Chris Taylor whoa so takes over leadership duties. James Fitzpatrick returns to the bench after a couple of weeks out.
1. John BLANCHARD
2. Chris TAYLOR (C)
3. Noah MILLER
4. Adam HOWARD
5. Sam WALLBANK
6. Ryan CARLSON
7. Toby HARRISON
8. Matt LAMPREY
9. Ben DORRINGTON
10. Joe PRIOR
11. Matt CROW
12. Nick GREGSON
13. Alex HURST
14. Tyler SPENCE
15. Jordan DORRINGTON
REPLACEMENTS: 16. MILLEA, 17. SLOANE, 18. PROCTER,
19. STOTT, 20. FITZPATRICK