Preston Grasshoppers vs. Sedgley Park – Kick Off 2:30pm
Preston Grasshoppers kick off the new season of league fixtures with a home game against one of their closest rivals in Sedgley Park who travel from Prestwich situated between Manchester and Bury.
Last season’s encounter at Lightfoot Green was an exciting end to end game with the lead changing hands throughout, with Hoppers ending up on the wrong end of a five point margin in a sixty seven point contest.
News of pre-season games played at Park Lane saw Scottish Tennents Premiership side Currie Chiftans (W) and Leeds Beckett (L) as their visitors whilst Hoppers have had a busy August entertaining Glasgow Hawks (L) who play in the same league as Park’s opponents plus Yorkshire National 1 side Rotherham (L) before their first Lancashire Cup-Tie for seven seasons against current holders Blackburn (W) who fielded a number of familiar ex. Hoppers players and Matt Lamprey sealed the victory with his fiftieth try for Hoppers. Ironically, that last Cup-tie was against Sedgley in the Final on their own ground in which the home side defeated Hoppers by less than a one try margin. News of the semi-final tie has yet to appear from the Lancashire County Cup Committee.
Blackburn, who were promoted through the play offs at the end of last season into the Northern Premier league, look to have the sort of side that will do well in that league if Hoppers experiences there are anything to go by.
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.
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 1st XV’s shows that the three club games back in the 1980’s were all won by Hoppers plus seven league wins, whilst this weeks visitors have the edge with nine thanks to completing a double last term.
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 the pre-season game, there have been twenty six games in all between the two clubs, Hoppers winning fourteen to Sedgley Park’s twelve.
Hoppers squad for the season opener sees 4 new faces and 2 returning ones in the mix.
Up front, Tony Harrison starts in the 7 shirt whilst in the backs Joe Prior is named at fly-half with Jordan Dorrington at fullback. On the bench there are 2 returning faces with hooker Christian Taylor and forward Sam Wallbank back in Hoppers colours. Joining them is back Ben Dorrington who will hope to make his debut.
Jake Squirrell will be hoping to impress at 9 after spending a large part of last season on loan at Caldy.
1. Tyler SLOANE
2. PJ MILLEA (C)
3. Noah MILLER
4. Adam HOWARD
5. Ally MURRAY
6. Ryan CARLSON
7. Toby HARRISON
8. Matt LAMPREY
9. Jake SQUIRRELL
10. Joe PRIOR
11. Scott JORDAN
12. Sam STOTT
13. Alex HURST
14. Tyler SPENCE
15. Jordan DORRINGTON
REPLACEMENTS: 16. TAYLOR, 17. PROCTER, 19. WALLBANK, 22. B DORRINGTON, 22. FITZPATRICK