Otley clash for 1st XV

Date: 02 November 2015

Preston Grasshoppers will be looking to put the disappointment of their defeat in the North East a fortnight ago this Saturday behind them when they entertain an Otley side from over the Pennines who are currently in their one hundred and fiftieth year of existence and Hoppers second oldest adversaries from the current crop of clubs in National 2 North.

Looking back at the game at Corbridge on Hoppers last outing, it’s difficult to understand the different displays either side of half time, but probably a try by the home side with the last play of the first half was the catalyst for the visitors demise signalling what was to be the Tynedale’s second half revival. As the final whistle sounded Hoppers had just a single penalty score to show for their efforts in the second period from a game in which they held the lead for over an hour.

For the record, Dan Burns made his 1st XV debut in the starting line up at Tynedale whilst Brad Tuff’s appearance off the bench marked his fiftieth first team game for Hoppers.

Our opponents this week currently sit half way in the league table with four wins to their name from the eight outings so far, and Hoppers will be hoping for a good performance to build confidence ahead of what is looking like an important fixture at Luctonians the following week.

Before relegation at the end of the 2010/11 season into National 2 North, Otley had lived in the upper levels of league rugby since gaining promotion at the end of the 1990/91 season from the Courage Division 4 North. When our two clubs met at Lightfoot Green that season, Hoppers came out on top by sixteen points to four. Hoppers and Otley next met in league action during our first season at Level 3 rugby in 1999/2000. This was to be for just one year, as Otley gained promotion once again.

The playing record between this week’s opponents goes way back to April 1929 when Otley played Hoppers whilst they were on an Easter tour. The home team ran out winners that day but suffered a comprehensive defeat the following season at Otley’s Cross Green ground against what was thought to be one of the strongest sides in Yorkshire.

There was then a considerable gap in time before the two clubs met again, but once that happened in 1961, games were played each season through into the “Leagues” period.

The records show Preston Grasshoppers having the edge in victories with twenty three wins to their credit over their Yorkshire rivals twenty one. One match has been drawn and five cancelled.

Photo by kind permission of Mike Craig – Fifty game man Brad Tuff looks to offload earlier this season  at Lightfoot Green against Sale.

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