Huddersfield visit on Family Fun Day

Date: 13 April 2016

Preston Grasshoppers host already relegated Huddesfield RFC at Lightfoot Green this Saturday and although our visitors are looking ahead to a season in North 1 next year, they won’t be a push over as many reports of their performances this season belie their position in the league.

The 1869 Club will be a disappointed group of travellers with the relegation of Huddersfield as a trip over the Pennines was always a fixture most looked forward to if not always the driest of experiences, that’s the wet weather I’m referring to. There’s always much liquid involved on one of their trips!

Both teams will be hoping for a somewhat dryer surface to play on than the one encountered at Lockwood Park back in December last year. Conditions on the day were truly horrendous but proved to be to the visitors liking so much so they beat Sedgley Park the following Saturday at Lightfoot Green under similar aquatic conditions.

Last Saturday’s result at Leicester Lions Wesleigh Park was another disappointing one for Hoppers and their travelling supporters. Well in with a chance of gaining something from the contest at the interval, trailing by just a couple of points and with the breeze and slope in their favour it wasn’t to be though. The visitors on-off problem with lack of penetration from attacking positions was evident once again as they failed to add to their meagre try scoring tally and as the final whistle sounded they finished pointless in the second period whilst their opponents five bonus points victory and Sedgley Park’s failure with a late penalty kick, still gives the Lions an outside chance of a play-off place, albeit only a mathematical one.

A look at who might be promoted to National 2 North for next season shows us that Sheffield Tigers will move up from North 1 as Champions but with just one game to play in the Midlands equivalent everything hangs on the very last game. Scunthorpe host current leaders Hinckley, who’ve been in that position for most of the season in a contest for the top spot with automatic promotion the prize. The Lincolnshire side are currently four points behind the leaders and need to win to have any chance, although any bonus points Hinckley should gain may prove fatal for the home side. As for the visitors, a win under any circumstances will suffice. Whoever loses out at Heslam Park will face Cheshire side Wirral in a play-off game on home turf for the right to play National League rugby next season.

Meetings between the Preston Grasshoppers and Huddersfield 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 one victories against twenty five to Hoppers with two matches ending all square and one being cancelled. Meetings in Preston however are in favour of the home team with seventeen victories against eleven and both drawn games being played at Lea. The edge in League encounters is currently in favour of Huddersfield by seven to Hoppers six giving this Saturday’s home side the chance to square things up and complete the double for the season, a feat our visitors achieved last season.

There have been a couple of other meeting between the two teams, they were both pre-season practice games at Lockwood Park. The first 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. The second one was a couple of season’s ago and was a much closer affair with the visitors running out winners twenty six points to twenty one.

Photograph by kind permission of Mike Craig – Last week’s man of the match John Mackenzie calls for a pass from Olly Viney with Pete Altham in support during the recent game against Luctonians.

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