Otley vs. Preston Grasshoppers – Kick Off 2.15pm
15. Sean Taylor 14. Matt Hughes, 13. Sean Long, 12. Russ Flynn, 11. Phil Baines, 10. Graham Holroyd, 9. Mark Edwards 1. Chris Gayle, 2. Alan Holmes 3. Richard Morton, 4. Ali Atkinson 5. Alex Austin, 6. Matt Charters; Capt, 7. Killian Wallace, 8. Dominic Moon,
Replacements: 16. Alan Martindale 17. Chris Lowden, 18. Connor Murphy, 19. Karl Fitzpatrick, 20. Owen McKenna.
Three changes to the starting line up for the visit to Otley after last week’s home defeat at the hands of Hull Ionians, Alan Holmes and Chris Gayle start in the front row with Mark Edwards replacing Tom Smith at scrum half. Connor Murphy and Alan Martindale’s return to the bench after just a week’s absence, being the only other changes to the squad.
Hoppers head for Yorkshire next Saturday for the third time already this season, hoping to repeat the performance of their last away trip and quickly forget last week’s defeat at the hands of a resurgent Ionians Club. They won’t be hanging around the bottom of this league for much longer, and it would be a brave man to bet on who the unlucky three will be come the end of April.
Otley’s emphatic opening day victory over our opponents from last week might lull them into false confidence, they do so at their peril as Hoppers will no doubt want to get back on track and remain in the top third of the league.
After relegation at the end of last season, Otley don’t seem to have settled into life in National 2 as well as many people expected. Before the drop, they had lived in the upper levels of league rugby since gaining promotion at the end of the 1990/91 season from the Courage Division 4 North when our two clubs last met at Lightfoot Green, Hoppers coming out on top that day by sixteen points to four. A couple of things to point out to younger readers is that just 4 points were awarded for a try in those days and until 1996/97, league matches consisted of just one meeting between teams in a season.
Hoppers and Otley next met in league action during our first season at Level 3 rugby in 1999/2000. This was to be for just one year, as Otley gained promotion once again.
There’s a definite pattern to Hoppers versus Otley league meetings, they only last for one season before each club goes its separate way. Will we break the trend this time and play each other again next season? We’ll probably have a better idea after the return fixture in April next year.
The playing record between this week’s opponents goes way back to April 1929 when Otley played Hoppers whilst they were on an Easter tour. The home team ran out winners that day but suffered a comprehensive defeat the following season at Otley’s Cross Green ground against what was thought to be one of the strongest sides in Yorkshire.
There was then a considerable gap in time before the two clubs met again, but once that happened in 1961, games were played each season into the “Leagues” period.
The records show our opponents to have the upper hand in results over the years, with Otley wining 20 to Hoppers 16 with one draw and five cancellations.
There are no games being played at Lightfoot Green this Saturday. All our teams apart from the 4th’s who have a bye, have away ties in the Raging Bull Cup Competition.
Sunday sees both our Senior and Junior Colts teams playing Lancashire County Colts Cup matches, unfortunately both have away ties, so it looks like being a quiet weekend at Lightfoot Green on the rugby front. Good luck to both the Senior and Colt’s teams in this year’s various cup competitions.
Photo’s by kind permission of Mike Craig.