It is derby day tomorrow as Preston Grasshoppers and Fylde resume their near-100-year rivalry.
With both clubs celebrating big anniversaries this season – Hoppers are 150 and Fylde are marking their centenary – there will an extra-special feel to this weekend’s game at Ansdell.
Not that it will really be necessary for what have always been eagerly-anticipated clashes between the neighbouring clubs.
Paul Arnold, head coach at Hoppers after filling the same role at Fylde, said after last Saturday’s defeat by Sedgley Park: “I shouldn’t have to say much to motivate them for next week. It will be a good test for this young side.”
His side were disappointed not to take at least a losing bonus point from the opening-day 30-20 home defeat by the Tigers, while tomorrow’s hosts revelled in an eight-try winning start at promoted Scunthorpe.
After a bit of a gap, Hoppers-Fylde games resumed last season when both found themselves in National League Two North. Promoted Preston won 18-15 at home but relegated Fylde had a more comfortable victory in the return fixture, by 33-17.
Hoppers will select from a 22-man squad, which includes new signings John Blanchard – a prop on loan from Sale FC – and former rugby league back Nick Gregson. Matt Crow is also in the mix, with centre Alex Hurst being unavailable.
Fylde’s provisional line-up shows a couple of changes from the victory at Scunthorpe. Ben Vernon looks likely to start in the back row and forward Olli Parkinson is scheduled to join the replacements.
Vale of Lune were due to travel for their North One West date with Warrington, but the fixture has been switched to Powderhouse Lane as cricket is still ongoing at the Cheshire club.
Both clubs opened the campaign with defeats, but Vale picked up two points in a 24-26 loss to Altrincham Kersal, while Warrington are still on zero points after losing 8-20 at Douglas in the Isle of Man.
Fly-half Harry Finan has a fractured wrist, so former Kirkham Grammar School pupil Callum Grieve makes his debut for Vale.
Tom Crookall comes in on the wing and Alex Preston props.
Hoppers (from): J Dorrington, Jordan, Crow, Stott, Fitzpatrick, Spence, Gregson, B Dorrington, Prior, Sqirrell; Sloane, Blanchard, Millea, Taylor, Miller, Howard, Procter, Murray, Wallbank, Carlson, Harrison, Lamprey.
Fylde (probable): Carleton; Botha, Wilkinson, Rawlings, Grimes; Smith, Lanigan; Horner, Gregory, Lewis, Ashcroft, Conner, Chapman, Vernon, Fairbrother. Replacements: Wild, Loney, Parkinson, O’Ryan, Brookes.
Vale: S Manning; T Crookall, Robertson, A Crookall, Fern; Grieve, Swarbrick; Preston, Dokter, Pillow, Robinson, Fellows, Cvijanovic, Ayrton, Powers. Replacements: Brandford, Tagg, Eastwood.