Preston Grasshoppers vs. Hull Ionians – Kick Off 2.30pm
Michael Lough’s selections for the visit of Hull Ionians this Saturday shows three changes from last weeks starting line-up.
Ally Murray drops to the bench and Will Keenan moves into the 2nd XV who are visiting Wilmslow. Sean Long and last season’s skipper Wayne Steel return with new boy Eddie Webster slotting into the back row on his debut. Former Hoppers Colt, England U’18 and current Sale Sharks A League player Michael Haley takes a place on the bench which also sees the return of Chris Gale after an outing with the 2
1. Andy Irving, 2. Alan Holmes, 3. Richard Morton, 4. Gareth Gore, 5. Wayne Steel, 6. Kilian Wallace, 7. Eddie Webster, 8. Dominic Moon, Captain. 9. Josh Purnell, 10. Sean Long, 11. Matt Hughes, 12. Jack Ward, 13. Karl Fitzpatrick, 14. Phil Baines,15. Sean Taylor.
Replacements: 16. Phil Mills, 17. Chris Gale, 18. Ally Murray, 19. Michael Haley, 20. Sam Kindred.
Hoppers host the Humberside outfit from Brantingham Park once again this coming Saturday, Ionians being one of our most regular opponents in League rugby during recent seasons. By some strange coincidence, this is the first of two consecutive home fixtures, both against the two Hull outfits!
The home supporters will no doubt recall last years fixture against Ionians at Lightfoot Green which ended in a surprising defeat at the hands of the East Ridings outfit. Hoppers had recently recorded an impressive victory away at Stockport and Ionians were rooted to the bottom of the table with just a couple of wins from fifteen starts to their credit. However, during the week leading up to their trip to Lancashire, thanks to a sudden cash injection, they had recruited players from the likes of Rotherham and Doncaster and the new arrivals appeared to inspire the remainder of the team who ran out comfortable winners on the day. All of which put a dampener on the mood of Hoppers best crowd of the season, who were anticipating Sean Long on his home debut helping Hoppers to a comfortable win against a struggling Hull Ionians side.
Our visitors will no doubt be in buoyant mood after defeating their closest rivals Hull last weekend on top of the narrowest of victories over Sheffield Tigers the previous Saturday, a much different start from last season. Hoppers on the other hand were brought down to earth with a bump last weekend. After rushing into a seventeen point lead the Tigers clawed their way back into the game and with a decision to either go for the win or attempt kicking a relatively easy penalty deep into injury time, Hoppers bravely opted to kick for touch and the rest is history. Although it’s still very early in the season and the relative strengths of teams is difficult to judge at this stage, this Saturday’s game has all the prospects of being a close encounter.
Rugby matches between Hoppers and various clubs in Hull have been taking place for fifty years, going back to when Hull & East Riding visited our old ground at Lea on the 22nd of April 1961 where the home team ran out winners by fourteen points to three. A match programme from that inaugural fixture survives amongst our archive collection, plus one from the return match the following year played at ‘Ridings Goddard Avenue ground. Interestingly, the programme notes that day record the home sides last game, which was against Ionians at Elloughton which is were Hull Ionians were born in 1989 when Hull & East Riding and Ionians amalgamated.
Fixtures against Hull Ionians started in their inaugural season on the 7th of October 1989 here at Lightfoot Green, when this time the visiting team were victorious by thirteen points to nine.
The record so far between today’s rivals stands in Hoppers favour by fourteen victories to eleven and interestingly in the last seven seasons there’s been a victory for each team in every season.
Games being played at Lightfoot Green this weekend include:
Hoppers 3rds vs. Wigan 2nds
Hoppers 4ths vs. Fylde 4ths
On Sunday, the Women’s Team get their season underway with a home league game against Northwich as do the Senior Colts against Sandbach. Both games kicking off at 2pm. Please give them your support.