Preston Grasshoppers vs. Huddersfield – Kick Off 2.30pm
Saturday’s line-up shows just a couple of additions to last week’s squad which played at Dudley Kingswinford.
Dan Madden returns in the front row, replacing Richard Morton and Will Keenan moves up from the bench swapping roles with Killian Wallace, the remainder of the pack staying as was.
In the backs Adam Birchall returns from injury to replace Matt Gargett.
Sean Long and Skipper Dominic Moon are given another week to recover from injury.
1. Chris Gale, 2. Phil Mills, 3. Dan Madden, 4. Gareth Gore, 5. Wayne Steel Captain. 6. Will Keenan, 7. Eddie Webster, 8. Conor Murphy, 9. Sam Kindred. 10. Karl Fitzpatrick, 11. Anthony Elliott, 12. Jack Ward, 13.Phil Baines, 14. Adam Birchall, 15. Sean Taylor.
Replacements: 16. Andy Irving, 17. Allen Martindale, 18. Alex Austin, 19. Killian Wallace, 20. Josh Purnell.
Hoppers host a struggling Huddersfield outfit this coming Saturday who are still without a win from seven outing and firmly routed to the foot of the table. A word of warning to Hoppers though, our Yorkshire opponents have played all the teams above us in the league and as Hoppers found out at Dudley last weekend, although teams may be near the bottom of the table that’s probably a reflection on the tough opposition they’ve faced so far.
Although the Yorkshire club lost their main points machine Chris Johnson during the summer when he joined Fylde’s ranks, this can’t be the only reason they’re struggling this campaign. After all, Huddersfield were in the top third of the league for the first half of last season and at one time looked like at least making the play-offs.
One player who had something to celebrate last Saturday was Rich Morton who made his one hundred and fiftieth appearance for Preston Grasshoppers. Richard arrived at Hoppers early in the 2002/2003 season from the Manchester club during Alex Keay’s first term, making his debut at Scunthorpe on the 12th of October and in doing so helped Hoppers record their first victory in twenty one outings! During his century and a half of games, he has accumulated 177 points scoring 35 tries plus kicking a conversion at Birkenhead Park during Hoppers season in North 1.
Fittingly it’s Huddersfield who are today’s opponents and the ‘You Tube’ clip of Rich’s tackle there last season has to date over thirty four thousand hits!
Michael Lough and his coaching team will be hoping some of the players who missed the game at Dudley Kingswinford will be fit and able to return on Saturday, although it has to be said the much changed squad fought bravely for a win along with breaking their duck at that particular venue. How the home team must be regretting not making touch from a relieving penalty thus allowing Hoppers to sweep back to Dudley’s line and ultimately break down the defence. Hopefully influential figures in the shape of Skipper Dominic Moon, Matt Hughes, Sean Long and forward’s coach Alan Holmes will soon be fit for selection and maybe play in this the fifty fifth meeting between the two sides. Talking of players making a return from injury, Ali Atkinson is back in full training and hoping to be playing again soon also how good it is to see ‘JP’s’ playing again!
After being promoted into National N2 five seasons ago games against Huddersfield, had resulted in home victories until the Lightfoot Green fixture back in December 2011 when the visitors broke the sequence with a seven point (and their first ever) League win at Lightfoot Green. The old trend continued though in the return fixture when Huddersfield ran out three point winners in a sixty seven points fest at Lockwood Park near the end of the season. Importantly, that’s the only league game Huddersfield have won in sixteen league outings, and Hoppers will no doubt be looking to avenge a double defeat last season at the hands of their opponents ‘fra ovr’t th’ill’!
Meetings between the two clubs go back to the late 1950’s when Hoppers made the first journey over the Pennines to play Huddersfield on the 29th of March 1958 at The Waterloo Ground, which is now occupied by a Morrisons supermarket.
It wasn’t a lucky trip for the travellers as the home team ran out comprehensive victors, 29 points to 9; in fact it took eight visits to Huddersfield before Hoppers eventually gained a win there in 1965.
The playing record between this week’s opponents sits in favour of Huddersfield by thirty victories against twenty two to Hoppers with two matches ending all square and one being cancelled. Meetings in Preston however are in favour of the home team with 16 victories against 9 and both drawn games being played at Lea. There was one other meeting between the two teams, this was a pre-season practice game at Lockwood Park before the start of the 2003/04 season when Hoppers ran riot, winning 79-19. This was however small consolation at the end of the season when we were relegated to North 1.
There are a few other games being played at Lightfoot Green this Saturday but before that, the 2nd XV will be travelling to the Woodlands on Friday evening hoping to extend their unbeaten league record this season. Your support would be very welcome over in Ansdell and an entertaining game looks to be on the cards against a much improved Fylde second string from last season.
The following games kick off at 3pm on Saturday at Lightfoot Green:
Hoppers 3rds vs. Orrell 2
Hoppers 4ths vs Broughton 1
On Sunday the Junior Colts XV host Warrington with a 2pm kick off.
The 1869 Club are running a coach to Stockport for Hoppers next away game on the 27th of October, taking lunch en route as is traditional. All supporters are welcome to join the party with accompanied youngsters travelling free of charge. There’s a notice on the board for interested parties to add their names. Departure time 11am. Fare £10.
Player’s families are most welcome to join us on the trip and arrangements can be made to pick up from the M61 and M60 if desired.
Departure from The Memorial Ground will be the usual, one hour after the final whistle with an estimated arrival back at Hoppers of 6.00pm.