Having secured their first away win and first ‘double’ last Saturday, Preston Grasshoppers have the chance of making it two in a row on both counts when they travel to Sheffield Tigers on Saturday.
They defeated the South Yorkshiremen 10-9 at Lightfoot Green in September thanks to a late Ben Dorrington penalty. But this weekend’s challenge looks a lot tougher than last Saturday’s at bottom club Scunthorpe.
The five points that Paul Arnold’s men picked up there could not move them up the National League Two North table but cut the gap to third-last Huddersfield to four points.
Sheffield have won their last two home games and six out of nine there in all. Their overall tally of 10 victories and seven defeats puts them in sixth place.
Matt Lamprey is unavailable this week, so Hoppers move Ryan Carlson to No.8 and bring in Ben Dorrington at flanker.
John Blanchard has been temporarily called back from his loan deal, so Oga Mabaya starts at prop, while Dan Madden, Adam Howard and James Gough join the benchmen.
As well as trying to tame the Tigers again, Hoppers will be looking for a favour from neighbours Fylde, who visit Huddersfield.
Last Saturday’s nailbiting 24-17 victory at home to Wharfedale kept Fylde in second placed.
In North One West, Vale of Lune travel to Bowdon, who are struggling, third from bottom with just two victories and 12 defeats. Earlier in the campaign, Bowdon lost 40-24 at Vale, who remain 10th.
Vale are without Tom Cvijanovic, who was red-carded last week, and the injured Owen Branford and James Robinson. Blake Snell and Callum Kyle come into the back row, Steve Tagg is at lock and Ryan Busby – a try-saving replacement last Saturday –makes his first start on the wing.
Andy Powers switched from flanker to hooker, with Harm Dokter on the bench, and there’s a debut at prop for Vitorio Vianchi, who is on a teacher exchange from Italy at Kirkham Grammar School.
Hoppers: Jordan; J Dorrington, W Davidson, Gregson, Browne; T Davidson, Squirrell; Mabaya, Taylor, Miller, Wallbank, Murray, Harrison, B Dorrington, Carlson. Replacements: Madden, Trippier, Howard, Gough, Stott.
Vale: Forrest; Fern (or Eastwood), Higginson, Finan, Busby; Briggs, Swarbrick; Vianchi, Powers, Pillow, Fellows, Tagg, Snell, Ayrton, Kyle. Replacements: Yates, Dokter, Fern (or Eastwood).