Preston Grasshoppers vs. Leicester Lions – Kick Off 2.30pm
Hoppers team for Saturday sees several changes from last weeks defeat at Chester. Some of these are enforced through injury whilst others see Michael Lough rotate his squad. Ally Murray and Rich Morton have not recovered from knocks they took at Chester so Dave Perry and Sam Wallbank come into the second row. Andy Napier is back from injury and replaces Will Lees who moves down to the bench. Sean Taylor is hopefully just a week away from returning after an ankle injury so Zavallis-Roebuck continues at full-back. A familiar face returns on the wing in the shape of prolific winger Matt Hughes. Karl Fitzpatrick is available again and lines up in the centre with Phil Baines moving out to the wing. The bench sees Joab Murphy, younger brother of Conor who played in the 1st XV whilst studying at UCALN, named alongside Dan Madden who returns from injury.
1 Chris Gayle, 2 Alan Holmes, 3 Mo Mustafa, 4 Dave Perry, 5 Sam Wallbank, 6 Andy Napier, 7 Killian Wallace, 8 Dominic Moon*, 9 Sam Kindred, 10 Lewis Allen, 11 Matt Hughes, 12 Jack Ward, 13 Karl Fitzpatrick, 14 Phil Baines, 15 Alex Zavallis-Roebuck
16 Dan Madden, 17 Phil Mills, 18 Joab Murphy, 19 Will Lees, 20 Craig Aikman.
Leicester Lions have named the following team:
1 Ryan Taylor, 2 Dale Agar, 3 Tom Williams, 4 Tom Cheney, 5 Matt Tuckey, 6 Drew Rudkin, 7 Jamie Wilkins, 8 Rob Youngs, 9 Tom Spence, 10 Adam Greendale, 11 Lee Veebel, 12 Steve Cross, 13 Jon Boden, 14 Sam Smith, 15 Kane Nixon.
16 Shaun Murray, 17 Olly Taylor, 18 Doug Love, 19 Keifer Laxton, 20 Don Campbell.
Hoppers entertain Leicester Lions this coming Saturday hoping to get back to winning ways after the disappointment last Saturday at Chester in losing their 100% record. Chester took advantage of injuries to Hoppers pack in the final quarter to run out 26-5 winners. Head Coach Michael Lough will be hoping that he will be able to call upon some of the players who missed the trip to Chester through injury. Full back Sean Taylor and lock Alex Austin will hope to be available for selection.
The Lions opened the season with a home victory over Dudley Kingswinford before losing at Birmingham Solihull the following week then defeating Cheshire side Caldy at home last Saturday.
Last season saw the Leicestershire outfit finish in ninth position and memories of the dour affair at Westleigh Park were completely erased when Hoppers ran in thirteen tries in the return fixture near the end of the season last April.
Depending on selection and not picking up any injuries both Kilian Wallace and Jack Ward will be making their fiftieth appearances for the club this Saturday against Leicester Lions. ‘Kill’ joined Hoppers from Wigan during the summer of 2011 along with Alex Austin and has taken the transition from level seven rugby to National 2 level in his galloping stride scoring eight tries in the process, the latest of which was at Sheffield just a couple of weeks ago. Kilian made his début at Kendal that season, coming on as a replacement for Dominic Moon. The other ‘Half Centurion’ began his rugby at Preston Grasshoppers in the under 7’s as many others have done, before moving to Fylde for a few seasons. He returned part way into the 2011/12 season around the time of Tom Hughes departure to make his 1st XV début at Caldy just before Christmas and has made the number twelve shirt his own ever since. Jack has missed just four games since his début and scored a total of ten tries in the process.
Fixtures against this coming weekends 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 equal with each club winning eight of the encounters. Last season’s big home victory for Hoppers and eighty three points haul was just a converted score below their record League performance at Lightfoot Green against Otley the season before.
The only other game being played at Hoppers this weekend will be the Fifths entertaining Ormskirk’s 2nd XV.
Photographs courtesy of Sid Wallace and Mike Craig.