South Leicester trip for the 1st XV

Date: 23 March 2016

South Leicester vs. Preston Grasshoppers – Kick Off 3.00pm

On the back of a much needed five point victory over a lively Sandal side last week at Milnthorpe Road and recording their second double of the season, Preston Grasshoppers head for South Leicester once again this Saturday after an aborted attempt earlier in the year when the game was postponed.

South have staged something of a recovery since the original date of this fixture, winning narrowly at Broadsteet and giving Tynedale a sound beating in their only home fixture since late January. Whilst on the road they added to the single victory of the season away from Welford Road at Broadstreet with a draw at Sale, but suffered defeats at Stourbridge, Harrogate and a missed conversion would have given them a share of the points last week at Otley All of which has placed them in the third relegation spot, somewhere they’ll be anxious to lift themselves away from on Saturday.

South’s slide down the league is the result of a more competitive competition this season with many of the teams in the bottom half of the table having more successes than failures. A look at the final National 2 North league table from last season and you can see that Luctonians who survived by one place accumulated sixty one points, a total at this stage no one would settle for this year with teams having between five or seven games still to play. I would think at this point of the season all teams up to and including ourselves in eighth place could be in danger of relegation if they don’t reach sixty five points. With the bottom two Huddersfield and Broadstreet on twenty eight and thirty nine respectively, this target looks impossible for the Yorkshire side and with Broadstreet needing to win all their remaining five games, some with bonus points to reach this total, it looks like it’s just the third spot to fight against for the remainder of the bottom eight unless one of the six has a catastrophic end to their season

Back to what’s immediately in front of Hoppers, and Head Coach Garth Dew will be well aware that the game against South Leicester will provide a vastly different style of opposition than the encounter with Sandal last week, with the home side possessing a large pack of forwards who on their day are a match for anyone in the league as Otley discovered last week. With Hoppers turning round a run of four defeats last Saturday at Sandal, they’ll be determined to carry on in this vein and record their fifth win away from Lightfoot Green.

The game in Fulwood earlier in the season was the first meeting between the two clubs and ended all square at twenty nine all, the first of three drawn games by Hoppers. South Leicester must have thought they had a five pointer in the bag but with just five minutes of the eighty to play and thanks to a couple of Sean Taylor tries plus a conversion, the spoils were shared.

Founded in 1919, fifty years after Hoppers, ‘South’s’ Welford Road home is in the middle of a veritable hotbed of rugby union with Leicester Lions, Leicester Forest, Oadby Wiggestonian, Vipers and of course Leicester Tigers residing in close proximity.

After battering away at the door for a number of seasons this weeks opponents South Leicester eventually gained promotion at the end of last term losing just once before finishing as Champions by some considerable margin over Hinckley who lost in the play-off to Sandal.

Photo by kind permission of Mike Craig – South Leicester won’t need reminding of Hoppers full back Sean Taylor whose two late tries robbed them of victory at Lightfoot Green earlier in the season. Sean’s two tries and conversions last week at Sandal lifted him into second place in the league’s points scoring table.

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