Leicester Lions vs. Preston Grasshoppers – Kick Off 2.00pm
With the whole country in the firm grip of frost but due to get milder from this evening, Saturday’s League Fixture in the Midlands must be in some doubt at least.
The Hoppers team coach is due to leave very early Saturday morning due to the 2pm kick off time, so a decision may well be taken late Friday evening after a pitch inspection and a look at the overnight weather forecast has been made.
Leaving the weather and pitch conditions aside, Michael Lough’s selection sees a number of changes from last week with Richard Morton, Wayne Steel, Will Keenan and Karl Fitzpatrick not recovering from injuries so Eddie Webster and Josh Purnell get their chance of a full eighty minutes.
The bench sees the return of Chris Gale, Lewis Allen and Kilian Wallace plus the welcome return from injury of Ian Sibbitt.
1. Andy Irving, 2. Phil Mills, 3. Dan Madden, 4. Gareth Gore, 5. Ali Murray, 6. Conor Murphy, 7. Eddie Webster, 8. Dominic Moon (Captain), 9. Sam Kindred, 10. Josh Purnell, 11. Matt Hughes, 12. Jack Ward, 13. Phil Baines, 14. Adam Birchall, 15. Sean Taylor
Replacements: 16. Chris Gale, 17. Brad Tuff, 18. Kilian Wallace, 19. Lewis Allen 20. Ian Sibbitt
Hoppers travel to play Leicester Lions on Saturday hoping to get back to winning ways after last week’s home defeat at the hands of run-away leaders Stourbridge and another loss the last time they travelled, at Otley.
The weather forecast in the Leicester area looks to be dominated by frosty nights until the end of the week when warmer if wet weather is on the cards.
The Midlands outfit performed something of an escape act at the end of last season, hovering just above the relegation fight for much of the time before stringing a few good results together near the end of the season and finishing just one point away from relegation after suffering defeat at Harrogate on the final day of the season. In the game at Claro Road the home team’s victory led the Yorkshire players and supporters to believe they were safe, only for a late change of fortune for Otley at Hull Ionians to condemn them to North 1.
This season has been something of a hit and miss affair for our hosts, winning and losing seven games and seemingly void of any consistency although they beat Sheffield Tigers at home a couple of weeks ago in a game when both sides were reportedly understrength.
Westleigh Park hasn’t been the best of venues for Hoppers but playing the Lions there last season brought about a rare if somewhat narrow thirty eight to thirty six points victory. If memory serves me correctly, the home side clawed their way back into a game from a long way back. One piece of action from the game back in January that still sticks with me was after Dominic Moon had scored Hoppers sixth try the comical sight of the ball rebounding of first upright then crossbar before dropping ever so slowly into goal for the extra two points. It was made even more memorable for whilst all this was happening, the home supporters were jeering ‘Holie’ as he sat on the grass after losing his footing whilst kicking the ball watching his effort all play out in front of him with us stood behind the posts holding our collective breath!
Fixtures against this week’s opponents began relatively recently when the Lions gained promotion into the National Leagues as Champions of Midlands 1 at the end of the 2004/5 season. Since then the share of victories is exactly even with each team winning seven games each. Last seasons double over the Lions was a first for Hoppers balancing out the previous season events when Leicester won both encounters in a season when promotion for them looked on for most of the term.
Other games being played at Lightfoot Green this Saturday include Hoppers table topping Third fifteen playing Littleborough 2nd’s and our Fourths playing Leigh Thirds the Second XV take an early Christmas break before the second half of their season kicks off in the new year.
On Sunday Hoppers Senior Colts entertain Chester with a 2pm start time.
The next home game for the 1st XV is on the 22nd of December and will see Yorkshire side Sheffield Tigers make the trek from Dore Moor to play the final league game of 2012.