DCSIMG

A double-header for Hoppers fans

Mo Mustafa (left)

Mo Mustafa (left)

It is the big kick-off in the Six Nations Championship tomorrow – but Preston Grasshoppers fans need miss none of the action.

Hoppers’ home game against Dudley Kingswinford has been brought forward to 2pm, nicely giving time to get settled in front of the clubhouse TVs as England take on Scotland at 4pm.

This will be Hoppers’ first home game since December 8 as they welcome a Dudley side sitting in 12th place in National League Two North, 14 points above the relegation zone.

After two weeks of inactivity across most of the league, Preston remain fifth and have the chance to do the double over Dudley, having won there 18-13 in October.

Hoppers will be without skipper Dominic Moon, who has been loaned to Leeds Carnegie to help out with a back-row crisis at the Championship club.

In a deal organised by former Preston coach Dave Baldwin, now at Headingley, Hoppers will, in return, have the services of Leeds prop Mo Mustafa for the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old Liverpool University student needs regular first-team game time after an injury.

Moon’s absence means a return at flanker for Eddie Webster, with Connor Murphy switching to No.8.

Sean Long is back at fly-half, allowing Karl Fitzpatrick to revert to centre, with Phil Baines, who will skipper the side, moving to the wing.

Vale of Lune face their third successive away game – spread over the last five weeks – as they return to action at Wirral, who are two places below them in sixth spot in North One West.

The game was postponed back in December and the clubs will meet again at Powderhouse Lane next month.

Last season, Vale won 33-24 at Wirral.

The Cheshire side have won eight out of 14 – including their last two outings – and have four victories and two defeats at home.

Half-back Jimmy Moore and new centre David Haigh are both unavailable for Vale this week, so there will be a late decision on the precise make-up of the back line, with James Curren and Adam McLuskie added to those who were scheduled to start last Saturday.

Phil Berry and Harry Fellows join last week’s original pack selection.

Fylde make the trip to Cinderford, where they squeezed out a 36-34 victory last season.

They also beat the Gloucestershire side 44-12 at Ansdell earlier in this year’s National One campaign.

Eighth-placed Fylde are two spots above Cinderford, who were one of the few sides to get a game last Saturday, losing at Richmond – their second defeat in a row, both away from home.

Mike Waywell, back at Fylde after a spell in Hong Kong, comes in at centre for Scott Barrow, who is involved with the England Counties squad.

Another absentee this weekend is Warren Spragg, who has been invited to Rome to receive his international cap in a special ceremony before the Italy/France game.

With an Italian grandmother, Spragg played internationals and sevens for the Azzurri while based in Calvisano.

Ben Rath is on standby pending a fitness check on winger Oliver Viney.

Kendal were last at home on January 5, when they lost their sixth game out of eight at Mint Bridge. Tomorrow sees the rescheduled visit of Penrith, whose trip down the M6 was called off a fortnight ago.

Kendal’s northern neighbours are sixth in National Three North, with seven victories, two draws and seven defeats. But Penrith have won only one out of six away from home and have lost five in a row on the road.

Kendal’s 12-match losing streak began with a 17-12 defeat at Penrith at the end of September. They have still won only twice in 16 attempts – both at Mint Bridge.

Hoppers: Taylor; Hughes, Fitzpatrick, Ward, Baines; Long, Aikman; Mustafa, Mills, Irving, Gore, Murray, Webster, Keenan, Murphy.

Vale (from): Ward, Royle, Moorby, McLuskie, Hodder, Curren, Wilson, AN Other; A Cowey, O Cowey, Berry, Hanson, Acton, Wallbank, Tudor, Lin, Charnley, Fellows.

Fylde: C Briers; Viney (or Rath), S Briers, Waywell, Brennand; Kenyon, de la Harpe; Birchall, Roddam, Griffiths, Arnold, Banks, Stewart, Vernon, S Beaumont.

Former Hoppers scrum-half Nathan Fowles starts on the bench for England Under-20s against Scotland at Plymouth tonight.

 

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