Preston Grasshoppers primed to take on high-flying Rotherham

​​Both Preston Grasshoppers and Vale of Lune take on the clubs sitting second in their respective leagues tomorrow.
Preston Grasshoppers lost last week to Lymm (photo: Mike Craig)Preston Grasshoppers lost last week to Lymm (photo: Mike Craig)
Preston Grasshoppers lost last week to Lymm (photo: Mike Craig)

Hoppers’ visitors in National Two North are Rotherham Titans, whose only setback in 11 games came a couple of weeks ago at leaders Leeds Tykes. They are 11 points behind Leeds, with a game in hand.

Things could hardly be more challenging for Hoppers as they bid to put behind them last Saturday’s horror show at Lymm, which brought them their seventh defeat, to go with four wins and a draw.

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They are also still seeking a first home victory of the campaign, but remain ninth in the table.

With the visit to Fylde next weekend, director of rugby Alex Keay said: “We’ve got two tough games coming up and we need to play a lot better than at Lymm. No-one turned up in the first half - we were shocking.

“But at least we scored as many points as them in the second half.”

Hoppers are still plagued by injuries, with Jake Maher, Rob Willetts, Jack Wilkinson, Tom Guest and Will Riley all out. Will Parkinson, Harry Holden and Jake Pope make up the front row this week, Josh Longson is at No 8 and Ally Murray reverts to lock.

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The Tykes were due to host Fylde this weekend, but the game was brought forward to October, when Leeds won 30-17. So, with last week’s postponement of the trip Hull, Fylde have just one game all month, the local derby next Saturday.

In Regional Two NorthWest, Vale travel to Bowdon, in the first of the season’s reverse fixtures. Vale lost 37-41 at Powderhouse Lane in September.

Bowden have won nine out of 10 and are two points behind leaders Birkenhead Park. After last week’s whiteout, Vale remain seventh, after four wins, a draw and five defeats.

Owen Branford and Joe Stevens are in the front row, Alex Briggs and Harrison Dodge in the backs and Sam Walton in the back row.

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​Hoppers: Browne; Spence, Lightowler, Keohane, Haigh; Hunt, Brand; Parkinson, Holden, Pope, Murray, Causey, Norrington, Dorrington, Longson. Reps: Williams, C Wilkinson, Townsley, Povall, Gosling.

Vale: Dodge; Briggs, Ramwell, Abdelghafar, Fern; Silverwood, Swarbrick; Oyston, Branford, Stevens, Fellows, J Wallbank, Walton, C Hall, Ayrton. Reps: Fowler, Field, Chadwick.