Paul Arnold happy to rotate his Preston Grasshoppers’ squad

Action from last Saturday's narrow victory over Sheffield Tigers (photo: Mike Craig)
Action from last Saturday's narrow victory over Sheffield Tigers (photo: Mike Craig)

Having ventured no more than 15 miles from home during September, Preston Grasshoppers start October with the 40-odd mile trip to Wharfedale.

But that is still one of their closer away games in a National League Two North programme which takes them to places as far afield as the North East, Leicestershire and Herefordshire.

The clubs finished side by side last season – Wharfedale eighth on 82 points and Hoppers one place and eight points better off. Despite that, the Dalesmen did the double, 15-14 at Lightfoot Green and 39-22 at home.

No wonder, then, that Preston head coach Paul Arnold said after the narrow 10-9 victory over Sheffield Tigers: “Wharfedale away is a massive game, but we will go with confidence.”

That win lifted his side to fifth with two victories, a draw and a defeat. Wharfedale are 11th following two defeats out of four.

As Arnold rotates his squad again, Chris Taylor starts as hooker – and captain – with Paul Millea taking a turn on the bench.

Sam Wallbank replaces Ally Murray following the lock’s hand injury last week, while in the backs, centre Nick Gregson and winger Matt Crow return to action.

Fylde revisit the scene of their biggest defeat last season – Tynedale, where they lost 59-15 exactly a year ago. However, they won the rematch 31-5 as they went on to finish sixth, one place and three points below the North Easterners.

This time round, Tynedale are 10th after one win, one draw and two defeats. Second-placed Fylde are one of only two unbeaten sides, with three victories and a draw so far.

In North One West, Vale of Lune welcome Keswick to Powderhouse Lane. The visitors are rock bottom after four straight defeats and their two away fixtures to date have seen 69-3 and 68-10 thrashings.

Vale slipped back to seventh with last Saturday’s defeat at Firwood Waterloo, their second reverse in four games.

Scott Manning returns at full-back, with two-try Michael Forrest switching to centre alongside Andy Powers, following Will Hunt’s red card at Waterloo. Ross Pillow resumes at prop.

Hoppers: J Dorrington; Spence, Hurst, Gregson, Crow; Prior, B Dorrington; Blanchard, Taylor, Miller, Howard, Wallbank, Carlson, Harrison, Lamprey. Replacements: Millea, Sloane, Procter, Stott, Fitzpatrick.

Vale: S Manning; Fern, Forrest, Powers, N Manning; Briggs, Swarbrick; Preston, Dokter, Pillow, Fellows, Tagg, Cvijanovic, Ayrton, Robinson.