Nuneaton vs. Preston Grasshoppers– Kick Off 2.00pm
15. Sean Taylor, 14. Matt Gargett, 13. Phil Baines, 12. Jack Ward, 11. Antony Elliott, 10. Graham Holroyd, 9. Nathan Fowles, 1. Chris Gale, 2. Chris Lowden, 3. Richard Morton, 4. Ally Murray, 5. Wayne Steel (c) , 6. Will Keenan, 7. Kilian Wallace, 8. Dominic Moon.
16. Mark Irving, 17. Phil Mills, 18. Conor Murphy, 19. Matt Charters, 20. Josh Purnell
Hoppers travel to one of their least successful venues this coming Saturday when they visit the Liberty Way ground of Nuneaton. Only two successes have been achieved on our visits to this particular ground out of the eight occasions we’ve played there. The last of these was back on the 28th of November 1998 when a comfortable victory of thirty one points to eight was recorded. Hoppers will be hoping for similar success but a desperate home side, whose recent poor form has seen them sucked into the relegation dogfight, won’t help their cause. To make matters worse for the visitors, the game looks like being played on the infamous ‘Back Pitch’ as Nuneaton FC have a scheduled home fixture on Saturday!
Dave Baldwin will be hoping his players can take the impressive performance over Luctonians last Saturday one step further on their visit to the Midlands, keeping in touch with the teams at the top of the table one or two of which seem to be faltering of late. Last weeks victory included first tries for the club by Anthony Elliott on the wing and the impressive Will Keenan making his first start plus Matt Gargett’s late double off the bench. Prop Chris Gale followed up his first try against Sheffield Tigers back in January with a second last week emulating one of Matt Hughes’ runs down the touchline. Also worth noting is Alan Holmes’ first try for Hoppers which featured on the front cover of last weeks programme. Something else to watch out for as well is Skipper Matt Charters next appearance for the 1st XV will be his 50th for the club.
Saturday’s opponents have a long history of fixtures against Hoppers. You have to go back as far as the twentieth of April 1957 for the first at The Harry Cleaver Ground in Nuneaton.
While Hoppers overall record against ‘The Nuns’ is slightly a negative one, having won eleven times out of twenty three meetings, they will be out to even that up and also avenge the double defeat at the hands of the Midlands outfit last season. Out of seventeen League fixtures between the two clubs, Hoppers have won nine to Nuneaton’s seven with one ending in a thirteen all draw. Hoppers home win over Nuneaton earlier this season was their first since the promotion season 1998/99 when we did the double over them, so Hoppers will be keen to add another double to the ones already in the bag this season over Caldy and Leicester Lions.
Nuneaton have joined the battle against relegation since the Christmas break with the other clubs down there enjoying something of a resurgence, but mainly due to their poor form of late when scoring points has been a struggle. Hoppers shouldn’t be complacent however, just a few weeks ago the home side defeated Westoe who gave Hoppers a torrid time up at Wood Terrace a week later.
Whilst the Seconds have the weekend off, other games taking place this weekend at Lightfoot Green are:
Hoppers 3rds vs. Leigh 2nds
Hoppers 4ths vs. Ashton-on-Mersey 2nds
The following day sees our Women’s XV take on Eccles in a League Fixture at Fleetwood’s Melbourne Avenue ground. Kick off is 2pm.