Harrogate after a harrowing defeat

Tom Hurst
Tom Hurst
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Preston Grasshoppers face a testing trip to Harrogate tomorrow, needing to get something from the game to make up for last weekend’s battering.

Last Saturday’s 29-0 home hammering by Chester saw Hoppers drop back to 11th place.

Head coach Garth Dew said: “We made a lot of mistakes again and were punished by a good team. We got into an arm wrestle, which wasn’t the right thing to do.

“And, while I can’t fault the attitude, the application just wasn’t there and there were far too many penalties and errors.

“You have to look for positives and I thought the pack played well, the set-piece was dominant but you have to take chances and while there may be a lot of endeavour in our side, games are won in that last third.”

Harrogate are currently in sixth spot on 29 points against Hoppers’ 22 and have only lost one game at home so far, the opener against Stourbridge by 17-11.

Unusually, they have recorded three high-scoring draws this season to boost their points-gained column.

Last season, the Yorkshire club did the double over Hoppers, winning an extraordinary topsy-turvy contest 45-40 at Claro Road and the return 25-15 at Lightfoot Green.

Dew makes just two changes to the starting line-up with Mark Murray winning a place at full-back after good displays for the second team, while centre Tom Hurst moves up from the bench for the unavailable Sam Russell.

Winger Tahir El Mahdi – on loan from Sale – makes his second start after a promising debut and scrum-half Harry Moulding and wing Matt Gargett join the bench.

Elsewhere, Vale of Lune make two positional changes in their line-up for the visit of Wigton in their North One West fixture.

Skipper Sam Wallbank moves into the second row from No.8, with Michael Barker returning to his position at blindside wing forward and the experienced Malcolm Fowler taking over at No.8.

After a week’s break in league action Vale – currently in fifth place – face Cumbrian opposition for the third game in a row.

Wigton, coached by former Vale favourite Malcolm Brown, have only won one game from their nine fixtures, they are next to bottom in the table and in danger of being cut adrift.

Last season Vale failed to overcome Wigton, losing heavily at Lowmoor Road, 34-12 and being held to a 21-21 at Powder House Lane.

Vale finished in eighth place, six points ahead of 10th-placed Wigton.

Fylde welcome their nearest National One neighbours, Wharfedale from over the Pennines tomorrow.

Chairman Andy Hiles said: “We have a healthy and competitive friendship with the Green Machine, a great club, and their supporters will get a warm welcome, so we hope a lot will make the trip.

“The England versus South Africa match at Twickenham will also be on offer in the clubhouse so we can promise a rugby fest.”

Hoppers: Murray; Baines, Hurst, Ward, El Mahdi; Allen, Kindred; Peterson, Mills, Altham, Tomlinson, Murray, Napier, Lees, Taylor

Vale of Lune: Weeks; Birchall, Lamberton, Dorrington, Curran; Macluskie, Swarbrick; Hesketh, Baines, McLaren-Dorrington; Charnley, Wallbank; Barker, Garnett, Fowler