Stourbridge on the road for 1st XV

Date: 15 November 2016

Stourbridge vs. Preston Grasshoppers – Kick Off 3:00pm

Preston Grasshoppers will not only be aiming to carry forward their good performance from last Saturday but also the recent run of victories over Stourbridge this coming Saturday when they visit Stourton Park.

Stourbridge gained the honour of giving Hoppers their first double of the season when the home side ran out winners by twenty nine points to eighteen in the return fixture last season. Hoppers victory at Stourton Park a year ago was their first there since their promotion season 1998/99 and ended a run of eight consecutive Stourbridge victories over Preston Grasshoppers.

Hoppers margin of supremacy over last weeks opponents Sheffield Tigers was only slightly diminished by the seven points gained by the visitors during the last play of the game, with the final result having been decided some time previously.

Our hosts on Saturday can boast an unbeaten home record so far this season during which time they’ve had victories over our opponents from last week Sheffield Tigers plus Chester, Harrogate, Scunthorpe, South Leicester and Wharfedale. If they’d had similar success on their travels they would be sitting higher that the sixth position they currently occupy. A narrow defeat last week at league leaders Caldy can be added to reverses at Sedgley Park, Sale and Leicester Lions with their only success being achieved at Luctonians in their first game away from home this season.

A glance at these fixtures shows that our hosts have generally visited teams from the top third of the current table, whilst on home ground it’s been opponents from the other end. Unfortunately this is a sequence that Preston Grasshoppers don’t alter this Saturday.

Hoppers showed the form their supporters have only seen in glimpses last Saturday when after a jittery start they grew to dominate the game, forcing the opposition to concede penalties and acquire yellow cards. More performances in the same vein will no doubt see them climb the table during the coming weeks.

Meetings between Hoppers and Stourbridge go back to the 24th of November 1973 in our very first season at Lightfoot Green. Hoppers ran out narrow winners that day by six points to three, before the return fixture at Stourton two seasons later when the home side recorded a comfortable victory.

The next meeting was the day after the annual Fylde Boxing Day match in 1986, the season before the National Leagues were formed and both Hoppers and Stourbridge started their respective journey into league rugby together at level 4 in what was then titled the Courage Area League (North).

The two clubs had stayed partners at this level until Hoppers promotion, a season when Stourbridge together with New Brighton and Kendal (who were promoted the following season) were Hoppers main challengers throughout, with a January twenty five points to ten victory at Stourton Park probably being the deciding factor.

Stourbridge finally gained promotion to what was then National 2 a couple of seasons later in what was to prove Hoppers final season at that level and until relegation at the end of the season back in 2012, the Midlands outfit had maintained Level 3 status.

The all time playing record between next week’s opponents has Stourbridge having won sixteen matches to Hoppers thirteen and the League record tells a similar but rather closer story of twelve victories to Hoppers and thirteen to Stourbridge. The overall record includes a forty four points to nineteen Powergen Cup victory to Stourbridge during the 1995/6 season at Lightfoot Green, which until a couple of seasons ago was their biggest winning margin over Hoppers whilst a thirty two points to three victory in their promotion season was the Hoppers best effort.

Photograph by kind permission of Mike Craig – It takes two ‘Tigers’ tacklers to arrest Chris Roddy’s charge with Oga and Jack Harrison looking for the off-load. Chris will be hoping to come out on the winning side against his old team from last season this Saturday.

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