Caldy trip may be close again

Phil Baines
Phil Baines
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Preston Grasshoppers tackle their final away game of the season tomorrow – with two home fixtures to follow to round off the National League Two North campaign.

They travel to Caldy, with whom they have had three close encounters in the last 18 months.

Hoppers grabbed a late losing bonus point at Lightfoot Green in December, Phil Baines’ converted try making the final score 18-16. Last season they lost 30-23 at Caldy after winning 31-22 at home.

After his side made it three wins in a row last Saturday, head coach Michael Lough said: “I’m looking forward to playing Caldy.

“It’s always difficult to play there but I think we’ve got a good chance.”

The Wirral club are 10th, three places and six points behind Hoppers, and lost 47-29 at home to league leaders Macclesfield last weekend.

Hoppers have won their last two away games to take their record to six victories and eight defeats on the road.

In total they have won 13 out of 27 and will be looking over their shoulders at Harrogate (eighth) and Luctonians (ninth) who are only a point behind, each with a game in hand.

Baines is ruled out through injury, so Sam Kendall switches to centre and Matt Gargett comes in on the wing in the only changes to last Saturday’s starting line-up.

Elsewhere,Vale of Lune end their North One West season with two home games, the first of them against title challengers Birkenhead Park tomorrow.

The Cheshire side are just one point behind leaders Wirral with two away fixtures left.

Park have lost just three games out of 24 and have been beaten only twice in 11 away matches – the second of them a fortnight ago at neighbours Wirral.

Vale have won their last two outings but remain seventh with 10 victories, four draws and 10 defeats, including a 32-14 reverse at Birkenhead in November.

At home, they have won seven, drawn one and lost three.

James Curran is away this week, so Adam Macluskie switches to the wing and Jonty Higgin returns at centre.

With Andy Garnett unavailable, Harry Fellows, home from university, takes his place at No.8.

Kendal moved up to third in North One West last week and now travel to ninth-placed Wilmslow.

The Cheshire side lost 33-20 at Mint Bridge in November.

Kendal now have 13 victories, a draw and 10 defeats, with five wins, a draw and six defeats at home.

Fylde’s penultimate home game brings Henley Hawks to Ansdell for the first time in more than a decade.

The visitors are battling for survival at the end of their first season in National One – they are 13th, just one point ahead of Cinderford, who have two games in hand and took two points away from their own trip to Fylde a fortnight ago, scoring five tries and going down by just six points.

Hawks have won three of their last four games – but all three were at home.

l Myerscough’s Adam Brocklebank and Stonyhurst’s Tom Morgan are in the England Under-18s Clubs and Schools’ 24-man squad to train at Loughborough University this weekend ahead of their forthcoming internationals against Ireland Clubs and France A.

l Former Vale lock Sean Cox is moving from Edinburgh to London Irish. The 29-year-old was born in Lancaster, where he went to the Grammar School.