Otley next for 1st XV

Date: 17 February 2016

Otley vs. Preston Grasshoppers – Kick Off 2.15pm

It’s John Peterson’s turn to take the plaudits this week as he makes his 150th appearance in a Hoppers First XV jersey. This all seems a long while since his debut at Longton back on the 20th of March 2004. Mike Craig’s picture shows John “in the thick of it” during the recent home game against Stourbridge, but there was no need for concern as help was close at hand!

Preston Grasshoppers will be looking to extend their unbeaten run even further with a visit to long time opponents Otley this coming Saturday after a big victory over a Tynedale side who must have been confident of a better outcome last week at Lightfoot Green.

Otley’s Cross Green won’t be the easiest place to keep up the momentum and will surely be their toughest test in recent weeks with the home side having lost just twice in their last six outings at Sale and Leicester Lions with no defeats recorded at Cross Green since the single reverse of the season, and that only by the narrowest of margins at the hands of Tynedale back in early December. Hoppers can look back to early last season for inspiration when they defeated the home side by twenty four points to seventeen at the same venue, although ground conditions will be much different this Saturday from that early season encounter. The Yorkshire side have since taken revenge for this reverse with two victories at Lightfoot Green, the latter being one of Hoppers worst performances of the season.

Hoppers victory last week took the side into the top half of the league table for the first time since the defeat of Sale back in early September with this weeks opponents now in their sights, just a bonus point win ahead.

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 have a slight edge over our opponents this week with twenty three wins to their credit over their Yorkshire rivals twenty two. One match has been drawn and five cancelled. League encounters number just thirteen with seven wins in Hoppers favour, the Yorkshire side winning the remainder.

Photo by kind permission of Mike Craig.

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