Stourbridge test for 1st XV

Date: 22 March 2015

Preston Grasshoppers vs. Stourbridge – Kick Off 2.30pm

Team News

Garth Dew’s selection for this Saturday shows a number of changes from the squad which travelled to Herefordshire a couple of weeks ago.

Danny Madden moves up from the bench as does Will Lees and Ally Murray is back in the second row with Jack Banks taking a place on the bench.

In the backs, Sam Kendall’s welcome return is the only change from two weeks ago.

The bench sees the return of Brad Tuff, Harry Moulding and Tom Hurst

The full line up reads;

1. Danny Madden, 2. Phil Mills, 3. Pete Altham, 4. Reece Tomlinson, 5. Ally Murray (Captain), 6. Andy Napier, 7. Will Lees, 8. Chris Taylor, 9. Sam Kindred, 10. Lewis Allen, 11. Sam Kendall, 12. Billy Woof, 13. Sam Russell, 14. Scott Jordan, 15. Mark Murray.

Replacements: 16. Brad Tuff, 17. Jack Banks, 18. Richard Morton, 19. Harry Moulding 20. Tom Hurst.

Stourbridge have announced the following starting line up plus five replacements;

1. Adam Sturdy, 2. Dale Garner, 3. Mark George, 4. Ben Hughes, 5. Ciaran Moore, 6. Nigel Mukarati, 7. Ejike Uzoigwe, 8. Drew Harper, 9. Tobias Handley, 10. Caolan Ryan, 11. Gary Ripple, 12. Ben Barkley, 13. Stefan Shillingford, 14. Nathan Bressington (Captain), 15. Tom Jarvis.

Replacements: 16. Ashley Oyekan, 17. Chris Depper, 18. Jordan Page, 19. Jack Spencer, 20. Nick Murphy.


After a weeks rest, Preston Grasshoppers will be looking forward to meeting old rivals Stourbridge at Lightfoot Green in the next episode of “Operation Survival” on the last Saturday in March.

After an uncharacteristic performance against Luctonians on their last outing, Head Coach Garth Dew will be eyeing this game up as one in which points must be gained.

Phil Mills

Phil Mills on the charge at Stourbridge back in late November 2014

Victory over the Midlands side would be the first since they ‘did the double’ during Hoppers promotion season into National One in 1999. after which a run of seven straight defeats has ensued.

Although Stourbridge haven’t had the best of seasons by their standards, they will still provide a stern test for Hoppers who must now look back to recent performances at Lightfoot Green to instil some confidence into the team.

Only Hull Ionians have lowered Hoppers colours in 2015 on home turf, the sides only being separated by Ionians fourth try after a blatant knock-on was missed by the officials.

The game at Stourton Park earlier in the season was a two man affair with Hoppers Lewis Allen scoring twenty one of Hoppers thirty five whilst Stourbridge’s on loan full back from Championship side Mossley Caolan Ryan, accumulated thirty six of the home sides forty five. Lewis and Caolan also bagged half of the ten tries scored that day.

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 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 four seasons ago, the Midlands outfit had maintained Level 3 status.

The all time playing record between Hoppers next opponents has Stourbridge having won fifteen matches to Hoppers eleven. The league record tells a similar story with nine 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 last season at Stourton Park was their biggest winning margin over Hoppers whilst a thirty two points to three victory in their promotion season in Preston was the Hoppers best effort. Something similar on the twenty eighth would suit Hoppers fine!

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