It’s bottoms up for Hoppers and Vale

Fitness check: Wayne Steel hopes to be fit for Hoppers
Fitness check: Wayne Steel hopes to be fit for Hoppers
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Preston Grasshoppers and Vale of Lune both play host to the bottom club in their respective leagues tomorrow.

Huddersfield visit Hoppers’ Lightfoot Green in National Two North and Manchester heading for Powderhouse Lane in North One West.

Hoppers seek to make it five wins on the trot, but will be well aware that Huddersfield beat them twice last season.

But the Yorkshiremen are still to break their duck this time round and, of course, have lost star kicker Chris Johnson to Fylde.

Huddersfield are one of three teams with seven straight defeats since the start of the campaign and occupy the bottom spot because they have picked up a solitary bonus point, compared to three for Westoe and five for Stockport.

Despite finishing sixth to Hoppers’ third last season, the Yorkshiremen won 17-10 at Preston and 34-31 at home.

Hoppers face late fitness checks on Sean Long and Wayne Steel, both of whom it is hoped will be in the starting line-up, as well as Dominic Moon and Killian Wallace, who could be in line for places on the bench.

Dan Madden starts at prop and Will Kennan, a replacement last week, is in the back row.

Elsewhere, Vale of Lune’s successful start to the North One West campaign came to an end at Leigh last Saturday.

But they remain leaders because Sale also suffered their first defeat and trail the Lancastrians by five bonus points to six.

Manchester have been in freefall for some seasons and, after another relegation last term, are the only club without a win in North One West.

Three of their seven defeats have come away from home and they have collected a solitary bonus point.

Vale have won four out of four at Powderhouse Lane and six out of seven overall.

After last week’s shock defeat, Vale have delayed selection, not least because of injuries to Sam Wallbank (ankle) and Jimmy Moore (hamstring); in addition, Lee Acton is likely to be suspended for a week by the club pending a disciplinary hearing into his sending off.

Although eight points separate Fylde and tomorrow’s hosts Cambridge in National One, they are only three places apart in the table.

Cambridge, flirting with the relegation zone in 14th place, have won two and lost five, with two victories out of four on their own patch.

Fylde’s defence belies their position in the table – a fifth-best 169 conceded – and they also have a joint-best tally of six bonus points. They lost 29-49 at Cambridge last year, while winning 41-26 at home, and finished fourth to tomorrow’s opponents’ 12th.

Teachers Alex Loney and Steve McGinnis are available for Fylde after missing several matches through school duties.

Loney goes straight in at hooker, with Jonny Roddam unavailable this week, and flanker McGinnis starts on the bench.

Three points and three places separate Kendal from visitors Lymm, who lie eighth in National Three North with three victories and four defeats. Their only away win in four attempts was at bottom club Birkenhead Park.

Eleventh-placed Kendal have lost three on the trot and their record now stands at two wins and five defeats, with two victories out of four at Mint Bridge. Lymm, whose attack is the second worst in the league (140 scored), but whose defence is the best of all (just 108 conceded).

Hoppers: Taylor; Elliott, Fitzpatrick, Ward, Baines; Long, Kindred; Gale, Mills, Madden, Gore, Steel, Keenan, Webster, Murphy.

Fylde: Viney; Spragg, C Briers, S Briers, Brennand; Barrow, de la Harpe; Birchall, Loney, Lavelle, Arnold, Banks, Maher, Stewart, Vernon.