Macclesfield vs. Preston Grasshoppers – Saturday 23rd February 2.30pm
Preston Grasshoppers head south into East Cheshire this coming Saturday for the rearranged game from earlier this month when the game at Macclesfield was postponed due to a frost bound pitch.
Hoppers will be looking to record a third consecutive win and another double after defeating Sheffield Tigers last week in what was just their second victory on the road this season.
Last week’s win at Dore Moor was witnessed by a good proportion of Hoppers supporters amongst the one hundred and thirty nine attendees, with the travelling 1869 Club and others that made the trip making up about one third of those gathered on the very windy and bleak hilltop.
A determined fightback by the home side during a ten minute period of the second half made the last quarter of the game a tense affair for the visiting supporters. The home side looked destined for a fifth and winning try during a concerted effort deep into injury time. But with the Tigers number four being dismissed to the sin bin a little earlier at the other end of the pitch, a big shove from the Hoppers pack saw the final threat gone.
The travelling faithful were not only treated to excellent, patient build up to the three tries on the day that will be remembered for some time, but travelled back over the Pennines with the thought that the home side had already done the double over a Fylde side that started the day in first place of National 2 North!
Macclesfield this Saturday will be approaching the game with the shadow of a second relegation in three seasons hanging over them. They are currently second bottom with twenty points separating themselves and safety. With just eight games remaining they would have to win at least five of these together with picking up bonus points from most of those eight matches and hope that one of those in the current safe positions suffer a catastrophic collapse. A tough ask!
Macclesfield RFC have enjoyed life at both Levels 3 and 4 since their promotion from The Northern Division League at the end of 2003 when they finished runners up and went on to win their play off game away from Priory Park at Luctonians who had to wait another seven seasons to be promoted. For those who maybe interested, the two other promoted teams that season were Darlington RFC and Longton RUFC. The North Easterners currently ply their trade in the Durham/Northumberland League which is at Level 8 of the RFU pyramid, whilst the Midlands winners that season are at Level 6 in Midlands 1 West.
Prior to this seasons fixtures, the two teams last met in National 2 North action during 2015/16 and before that 2013/14 when on both occasions our visitors were on their way to promotion, Macclesfield being victorious in all four games. In fact until earlier this season at Lightfoot Green, the Cheshire side had run out victors in the last eight meetings between the two sides. Before the game last October the last Hoppers success came in the fixture at Priory Park back during January 2008 when Adam Crisp scored both of Hoppers of tries in a twenty six points to twelve victory. Hoppers did the double that season, winning sixteen points to twelve in a closer game at Lightfoot Green when Craig and Wayne Steel locked the scrum.
Competitive games between the two clubs go back to 1993 when the first meeting took place at Lightfoot Green on the 6thof November, Hoppers taking the spoils eighteen points to ten.
There have been twenty two meetings between the two clubs at 1stXV level, with our visitors having the edge by just a single victory with one game drawn thirty six all. Victories in league fixtures has the advantage in Macclesfield’s favour by nine to seven. The points total of thirty six from the drawn game at Priory Park on the 24thof September 2005 still stands as a Preston Grasshoppers record in tied league games.
Prop Noah Miller made his first start for Preston Grasshoppers at Sheffield Tigers following 11 appearances from the substitutes bench throughout the season.
Hoppers side shows 2 changes with Luke Procter coming into the pack in place of Sale Sharks loanee Teddy Leatherbarrow whilst the backline sees Alex Jobson make his full debut in place of another Sale loanee Nathan Pope who drops to the bench.
1. Noah MILLER
2. PJ MILLEA (C)
3. Peter ALTHAM
4. Adam HOWARD
5. Luke PROCTER
6. Ally MURRAY
7. Ryan CARLSON
8. Matt LAMPREY
9. James GOUGH
10. Thomas DAVIDSON
11. Alex JOBSON
12. James FITZPATRICK
13. Alex HURST
14. Tyler SPENCE
15. Scott JORDAN
16. Oli TRIPPIER
17. Tyler SLOANE
18. Paul ARNOLD
19. Conor TRUEMAN
20. Nathan POPE