Preston Grasshoppers vs. Otley – Kick Off 2.30pm
Michael Lough’s squad for Saturday’s fixture against Otley sees the welcome return of a few familiar names which is good news for all concerned.
Rotation takes place once again with Danny Madden making the starting line up and Mo Mustafa taking a turn on the bench. The rest of the pack remains the same as last week apart from Eddie Webster replacing Andy Napier.
At scrum-half, Craig Aikman moves from last week’s replacements to get a starting place whilst Sam Kindred moves to the seats.
The Hoppers backs have a more familiar look to them this week with the welcome return of Jack Ward, Karl Fitzpatrick and Sean Taylor.
1 Chris Gayle, 2 Phil Mills, 3 Dan Madden, 4 Joab Murphy, 5 Sam Wallbank, 6 Will Lees, 7 Eddie Webster, 8 Dominic Moon (Captain), 9 Craig Aikman, 10 Lewis Allen, 11 Phil Baines, 12 Jack Ward, 13 Karl Fitzpatrick, 14 Adam Birchall, 15 Sean Taylor.
16 Mo Mustafa, 17 Alan Holmes, 18 Alex Austin, 19 Sam Kindred, 20 Matt Hughes.
Otley have announced the following fifteen plus replacements;
1 Paul Hill, 2 Henry Walker, 3 Adam Blakes (Captain), 4 Jonathan Stanard, 5 Simon Willet, 6 Matthew Stephens, 7 Daniel Temm, 8 Stephen Costello, 9 Stephen Depledge, 10 Mark Ireland, 11 Harry Hudson, 12 Chris Gemmell, 13 Mike Coady, 14 Chris Dyson, 15 Arnold Ellison.
16 William Rigg, 17 Ben Steele, 18 Thomas O’Donnell, 19 Mark Cooke, 20 Benjamin Collins.
After a disappointing performance at Stourbridge last weekend from a depleted squad, Hoppers coaching staff will be hoping some of the injured and unavailable players will be available for selection this weekend against long time opponents from Yorkshire in the shape of Otley.
With just one defeat against their name so far this season Otley sit in the top half of the table, four places above the home club who have lost one more game. It has to be pointed out though that our visitors previous opponents all sit below Hoppers in the table and have accumulated just four wins from twenty five outings between them one of which was over Otley. On the other hand all but one of Hoppers games have been played against teams from the top half of the table.
Last season’s encounters ended with honours shared in the shape of two home wins. A narrow defeat at Cross Green back in November before a high scoring home win to Hoppers at Lightfoot Green later in the season when our visitors missed out on a losing bonus point by one.
Before relegation at the end of the 2010/11 season, 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 into the “Leagues” period.
The records show our opponents just have the upper hand in results over the years, winning twenty to Hoppers nineteen with one drawn match and five cancellations so a home victory would tidy things up nicely.
Other home games this week
The other game being played at Lightfoot Green this coming Saturday see the Fifths entertain their Fylde counterparts and the Sixths Burnley Thirds. Also in action on Saturday are the Women’s team who take on Vagabonds at 12.30pm.
Photo’s by kind permission of Mike Craig.