Hull Ionians vs. Preston Grasshoppers – Kick Off 2.00pm
Head Coach Michael Lough has made just one change to the starting selection from the washed out event with Sheffield Tigers, Rich Morton replacing Andy Irving who moves to the bench.
Michael Haley has recovered from injury and sits on the bench while a new face at Lightfoot Green, Craig Aikman, is also set to make his debut. Craig Has joined Preston Grasshoppers on loan over the Christmas period from Fylde. His other previous clubs include Waterloo and Halifax where he was a team mate of 1st XV skipper Dominic Moon
1. Richard Morton, 2. Alan Holmes, 3. Chris Gale, 4. Gareth Gore, 5. Ally Murray, 6. Conor Murphy, 7. Will Keenan, 8. Dominic Moon, Captain, 9. Sam Kindred, 10. Karl Fitzpatrick, 11. Adam Birchall, 12. Jack Ward, 13. Phil Baines, 14. Matt Hughes, 15. Sean Taylor.
Replacements: 16. Brad Tuff, 17. Eddie Webster, 18. Craig Aikman, 19. Michael Haley, 20. Andy Irving
Details of how Ionians will line up looks like this:
15. Mike Bateman, 14. Jon Steel, 13. Chris Reakes, 12. Richard Fletcher, 11. Sam Wilson, 10. James Ferguson, 9. Isaac Green, 1. Dave Laverick, 2. Ally Forth, 3. Stephen Johnson, 4. Joe Makin, Captain. 5. Joe Sanders, 6. Mark Wigham, 7. Kerry Wood, 8. Danny Hague
Replacements: 16. Albert Thundercliffe, 17. Tom Rice, 18. Scott Jackson, 19. Ben Johnson, 20. Adam Thomas.
Referee: Tom Davis – RFU; Assistant Referees: Tudor Griffiths/Peter Scott – RFU
Hoppers head for Yorkshire on Saturday for their first outing of 2013 for what the fixture list has drawn up as consecutive away trips to the East Ridings of Yorkshire.
Hoppers will be keen to get back into action having not played since December 15th where the lads lost out 10-9 at Leicester Lions. The game against Sheffield Tigers fell foul to the weather the following weekend but Hull Ionians were able to keep up their impressive form with a convincing 28-5 victory at their neighbours Hull.
A trip to Brantingham Park, the home of Hull Ionians is the first of the double header before traversing the M62 once again the following Saturday when Hull are our opponents.
Ionians recovery from the bottom of the league well into last season has continued this term and if it wasn’t for run away leaders Stourbridge, they could very well have been top of the pile over Christmas.
Hoppers will hope to avenge a narrow defeat at Lightfoot Green back in mid September when the visitors edged home by a couple of points in a very close fought encounter.
Fixtures against Hull Ionians started in their inaugural season on the 7th of October 1989 at Lightfoot Green, when on this occasion the visiting team were victorious by thirteen points to nine.
The record so far between today’s rivals stands marginally in Hoppers favour by fourteen victories to twelve who will be hoping to head back to Lancashire with a similar result to last season. In fact everything points to an away win as honours have been shared over the last eight seasons when home and away fixtures have taken place. You need to go back to Alex Keay’s inaugural season of 2002/3 to find the last time this trend was broken when Hoppers won both games.
Games being played at Lightfoot Green this weekend include:
Preston Grasshoppers 5th XV vs. Tarleton 2nd XV
Preston Grasshoppers 6th XV vs. Clitheroe 2nd XV
Hull Ionians are offering a pre-match lunch on Saturday for £15 which includes programme and admission. To book ring 01482 667342.