Lough is targeting big finish

Craig Aikman will be among the replacements for Hoppers tomorrow
Craig Aikman will be among the replacements for Hoppers tomorrow
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Following a convincing win last weekend, Preston Grasshoppers head coach Michael Lough is confident his side are back on track ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Dudley Kingswinford.

After a disappointing loss to Harrogate two weeks ago, Preston bounced back with a comprehensive 43-13 win against Hull last time out.

And with SSE National Two North bottom-side Dudley Kingswinford up next, Lough believes his side have a golden opportunity to record back-to-back wins for the first time since November.

Preston are currently sitting in 10th place in the league and, with just five games to go in the season, Lough is targeting a strong finish.

“The win against Hull was massive because we haven’t been playing too well recently,” Lough said.

“We aren’t going to be taking the Dudley match for granted but we do expect to win.

“If we manage to do that then we should be safe for this year so it is a really big game for us.

“They haven’t won this season so we think we have a good chance but we can’t afford to let our performance level drop.

“It’s important now that the players start playing well again and get their confidence back because they haven’t been at their best recently.

“If we win again then that will give them some encouragement and if they can start playing well then it puts them in a good position for the off season.”

Before last weekend’s victory, Preston had lost 10 of their last 13 matches and at one point suffered seven straight defeats.

Lough puts that bad spell down to a lack of psychological strength but thinks his side is a much stronger force now than at the start of the season.

“The mental side of our game wasn’t as high as we wanted it to be but the lads have shown a big turnaround recently,” he added.

Preston’s form has been so erratic that they have yet to win three games in a row and victory tomorrow would leave them with as many away victories as they have managed at home – they have won five and lost eight on the road, while winning 11 of 25 overall.

But they moved up to 10th with last Saturday’s success against Hull and, after tomorrow, play three of their final four fixtures at home.

Hoppers make just one change, with Sam Whyte starting at scrum-half this week and Craig Aikman on the bench.

SSE, proud sponsor of the National and Divisional Leagues, has £10,000 worth of mobile floodlights for your club to win. To find out how to enter go to www.SSERugby.com