Preston Grasshoppers vs. Sheffield Tigers – Kick Off 2.30pm
With skipper Dominic Moon still helping out nomadic Leeds Carnegie and Sean Long in Perpignan on Rugby League duties with Salford City Reds, there are one or two changes from last weekend’s line up for the visit of Sheffield Tigers.
The front five stays unchanged whilst Andy Napier replaces Eddie Webster in the back row who takes a turn on the bench. Karl Fitzpatrick moves back to fly half and captain Phil Baines moves into the centres with Adam Birchall returning to the wing position. Lewis Allen takes the remaining spot on the bench.
1. Andy Irving, 2. Phil Mills, 3. Mo Mustafa, 4. Gareth Gore, 5. Ali Murray, 6. Andy Napier, 7. Will Keenan, 8. Conor Murphy, 9. Craig Aikman. 10. Karl Fitzpatrick, 11. Adam Birchall, 12. Jack Ward, 13. Phil Baines Captain, 14. Matt Hughes, 15. Sean Taylor.
Replacements: 16. Chris Gale, 17. Richard Morton, 18. Eddie Webster, 19. Lewis Allen, 20. Sam Kindred.
Hoppers and ‘The Tigers’ will hope for better luck with the weather at Lightfoot Green this coming Saturday and the home side will also be intent on reversing the result at Dore Moor back in September. Hoppers looked set to make it two wins from two outings at the start of the season when they started like a runaway train in opening up a seventeen point lead. However, Sheffield had other ideas and gradually edged their way back into the game. A drive for the line deep into injury time at the end of the game looked likely to provide the winning score for the visitors but a spot of mishandling proved decisive and all the visitors had to show for their efforts was a losing bonus point even though they’d outscored the home side three tries to two.
That win started an nine match unbeaten run for the Yorkshire side but since the middle of November they’ve lost six out of their eight fixtures, away at Leicester Lions, Otley, Hull and Birmingham Solihull, home defeats at the hands of Stourbridge and Darlington Mowden Park with just a couple of home victories over lowly Westoe and Stockport.
Hoppers on the other hand appear to have weathered the storm with a couple of wins after four consecutive reverses The addition of a couple of new players to the squad and the injury list clearing up somewhat probably making the difference.
This is Sheffield’s second season at Level 4 into which they’ve made a decent fist of things, currently sitting in the top half of the league and finishing last term in a comfortable mid table position.
Hoppers Seconds have another ‘Friday Floodlight’ fixture scheduled for the next round of games, making the journey to Sedgley Park details of which will be announced later in the week. Meanwhile Hoppers 5th’s entertain Wigan 3rd’s on Saturday with the Sixth’s having a home game against Colne & Nelson 2nd’s.
Coach to Huddersfield
Just a reminder that the 1869 Club are running a coach to Huddersfield for our next away fixture on the 16th of February. Anyone interested in travelling will find a poster on the Noticeboard where they can add their names. The fare is £15 or £10 if sufficient numbers travel and as usual, accompanied juniors go for free. The trip is due to leave the clubhouse at 10.45 with a stop for lunch on the way. Departure from Lockwood Park will be the usual one hour after the final whistle with arrival back at Lightfoot Green around 7pm
Photograph courtesy of Mike Craig.