Buoyed by their fightback at Fylde last weekend, Preston Grasshoppers return to Lightfoot Green tomorrow for the second of their three September home fixtures in National League Two North.
After earning a 24-24 draw with two late tries at Ansdell, head coach Paul Arnold told his troops: “Enjoy the weekend. But we’ve got to back it up in our next two home games.”
The first of those sees them renew rivalry with Scunthorpe, who did the double over them in Hoppers’ relegation season of 2016/17 – 25-24 at Preston and 24-18 in the return game.
Arnold is also well aware that Scunthorpe ran in 32 points in their opening day defeat at home to Fylde as well as scoring 27 when losing by just four against Sheffield Tigers.
That has given them two points from their opening two matches – the same as Preston. Scunthorpe lie 14th, one place below Hoppers who lost at home to Sedgley Park before the draw at Fylde.
The hosts are without the injured Scott Jordan and Adam Howard, as well as James Fitzpatrick, who is unavailable. Centre Nick Gregson, prop John Blanchard and lock Luke Procter are promoted from last week’s bench, while Matt Crow makes his first start of the season on the wing.
Sam Wallbank and Alex Hurst are available this week and join the replacements.
Fylde head for the Dales tomorrow to take on a Wharfedale side which has one win and one defeat so far to lie eighth. Fylde are in fifth place after their one victory at Scunthorpe and one draw.
In North One West, Vale of Lune host promoted Bowdon for their third successive home game. Both sides have one victory and one defeat, with Vale’s seven points putting them fourth while the visitors are seventh with five points.
Looking to back up last week’s first win in 10 games, Vale are without both Crookall brothers, Al and Tom, with the latter facing a long lay-off for an Achilles operation.
Callum Grieve switches to centre, Alex Briggs comes in at fly-half and Ike Eastwood is on the wing. Aiden Yates starts at prop this week and Will Hunt joins the replacements.
Hoppers: J Dorrington; Crow, Stott, Gregson, Spence; Prior, Squirrell; Blanchard, Millea, Miller, Procter, Murray, Carlson, Harrison, Lamprey. Replacements: Sloane, Taylor, Wallbank, B Dorrington, Hurst.
Vale: S Manning; Fern, Robertson, Grieves, Eastwood; Briggs, Swarbrick; Yates, Dokter, Pillow, Fellows, Robinson, Cvijanovic, Ayrton, Powers. Replacements: Preston, Tagg, Hunt.