Preston Grasshoppers vs. Stockport – Kick Off 2.30pm
Coach Dave Baldwin makes just one change to the starting fifteen from last weekend at Harrogate, Alex Austin replaces the injured Jon Wells. Another couple of changes on the bench with the brothers Irving changing over with Mark starting in what looks like a strong line-up at Sedgley Park for the Seconds while Andy takes a turn on the bench in the game at Lightfoot Green. Kilian Wallace also gets a run out with the Seconds his place on the bench is taken by Conor Murphy.
Graham Holroyd still hasn’t recovered from injury so the home crowd will have the opportunity to see Sean Long play in the more active position of Fly Half for the first time at Lightfoot Green. If he and can fire the backs into action once again as last week at Harrogate, it will be something to good to miss!
The full line up is:
15. Sean Taylor, 14. Matt Gargett, 13. Karl Fitzpatrick, 12. Jack Ward, 11. Phil Baines, 10. Sean Long, 9. Nathan Fowles, 1. Chris Gayle, 2. Alan Holmes, 3. Richard Morton, 4. Alex Austin, 5. Wayne Steel, 6. Will Keenan, 7. Matt Charters Capt. 8. Dominic Moon.
Replacements: 16. Phil Mills, 17. Andy Irving, 18. Conor Murphy 19. Josh Purnell. 20. Antony Elliott.
Hoppers impressive victory at Harrogate last Saturday was not only the first ever double over the Yorkshire team, but has once again given the club a glimmer of a chance to reach the Play-Off spot in National 2. Just six points separate a stuttering Huddersfield (who Hoppers have still to visit) and ourselves, but no more slip ups such as in the last home game against the in form Hull outfit and the draw at struggling Nuneaton can be afforded.
Hull are the team who are very much in form, enjoying a six match unbeaten run which if they can maintain through the run in (which looks possible) would make their last game at Westoe very interesting.
A relatively short journey faces our visitors from Stockport this coming Saturday in a fixture has to be considered a ‘Local Derby’ along with the Kendal fixture, which it seems we will be losing next season!
This will be Stockport’s first ever visit to Lightfoot Green to play Preston Grasshoppers in a League Fixture, although they have visited Preston on many occasions under their previous name of Davenport. Similar to the other promoted teams, Sheffield Tigers and Bromsgrove, our visitors have coped very well in their first ever season at this level, all of them currently sitting comfortably together in a mid table group.
Stockport offered stern opposition back in November when Hoppers old boys Pearson and Roebuck’s tries were countered by a debut try by Sean Long and a brace from Sean Taylor, Graham Holroyd’s goal kicking making the difference and edging the contest. The win at The memorial Ground was the start of four consecutive victories on the road.
Hoppers and Davenport first meeting was thirty one years ago on the 13th of February 1971 at the Bramhall ground when the home team came up with a narrow victory fourteen points to eight after a scoreless first half.
There have been twenty-two meetings between Hoppers and Davenport/Stockport, Hoppers winning fifteen, Davenport six with one ending in a three all draw. Fixtures were kept every year until the last meeting on the 17th of March 1990 at Lightfoot Green when the visitors replaced the scheduled opponents Wigan. We should have met once more, during the following month, but a Lancashire Cup Semi Final against LSH looks to have taken precedence.
Other fixtures taking place at Lightfoot Green this Saturday include:
Hoppers 3rd’s vs. Macclesfield 3rd’s
Hoppers 4th’s vs. Fleetwood 2nd’s
While our table topping second XV face what will probably be a title decider away at Sedgley Park. Hopefully, score updates from Park Lane will be announced throughout the Stockport game.
Sean Taylor reaches for the line earlier this season at Stockport – Photograph courtesy of Mike Craig.