A nervy weekend awaits Dew’s men

Hoppers head coach Garth Dew expects his side to survive
Hoppers head coach Garth Dew expects his side to survive
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Amid all the possible permutations from tomorrow’s last round of National League Two North games, one thing is straightforward – if Preston Grasshoppers win at Hull, they are safe for another season.

Other than that, it is fiendishly complicated.

Hull, five points behind Hoppers, could get themselves out of the relegation zone by winning and scoring four tries or more while depriving the visitors of any bonus points.

That would put the Humbersiders above Preston because they will have won one more game.

Then, for Hoppers, it would be a question of hoping that Luctonians – two points behind them – lose to Leicester Lions with no bonus points.

A Hull victory without a bonus point could see them relegated…depending on Luctonians’ result.

Meanwhile, Birmingham/Solihull, next to bottom a point behind Hull, need to win at Otley, with a bonus point, and hope Hull and Luctonians both lose.

So, that’s clear – four teams still in the mix to go down with Stockport. It is going to be a complicated, nerve-racking afternoon.

Hoppers head coach Garth Dew said: “We have shown how well we can play when we keep composed. Last week’s win over Caldy will give us a lot of confidence, but the job’s not finished.

“We are definitely building something here but first we have to guarantee our safety, then we can start planning for next season.”

Preston did the double over Hull last season – 30-22 away and 43-13 at home, but lost 16-11 to them at home on the first day of this campaign.

Hoppers keep faith with the line-up which started against Caldy last Saturday. The only change is on the bench, where Oga Mabaya replaces Jack Banks, who is unavailable.

National League One comes to a conclusion tomorrow as well, with sixth-placed Fylde heading for London for the second Saturday in succession.

They visit Blackheath, whom they defeated 31-16 at Ansdell on the opening day and who are just one point above them.

The Londoners have won 16, drawn one and lost 12, with 10 home wins, one draw and three defeats.

Fylde have won 15, drawn two and lost 12, but their away form has been poor, with just three victories, two draws and nine defeats – including their last two road trips.

Fylde ring the changes, with Greg Nicholls starting at scrum-half, which causes a reshuffle elsewhere in the back division. Ryan de la Harpe moves to the wing, and Jordan Dorrington is at centre.

In the pack, Dan Birchall props, Danny Maher hooks and coach Paul Arnold starts at lock, with Gareth Rawlings in the back row.

As the club season winds to its close, county champions Lancashire have started preparing for the defence of the Bill Beaumont Cup.

There is a week off next week, then the Northern Group action starts with the holders playing at Cheshire. May 16 brings a trip to Blaydon to face Durham and the group stages end with the Roses battle against Yorkshire at Fylde.

Hoppers: M Murray; Jordan, Russell, Woof, O’Donnell; Allen, Moulding; Madden, Mills, Altham, A Murray, Tomlinson, Moon, Lees, Taylor. Replacements: Tuff, Mabaya, Morton, Kindred, Reddick.

Fylde: Spragg; de la Harpe, Dorrington, S Rawlings, Brennand; Johnson, Nicholls; Birchall, Maher, Lewis, Gore, Arnold, Goodman, Stewart, G Rawlings. Replacements: Lavelle, Trippier, Griffiths, Dowds, Robinson.