Paul Arnold wary of Preston Grasshoppers’ cross-Pennine test
Tomorrow sees the second of Preston Grasshoppers’ three trips to Yorkshire this season in the Northern Premier League.
Three weeks ago, there was a defeat at early pacesetters Otley.
This weekend, they travel to Sandal, which head coach Paul Arnold says he knows “is not an easy place to go”.
On his first trip there with Hoppers in the 2017/18 campaign, it needed a very late try and conversion to clinch a 26-24 victory.
But the club can look back fondly to a few years earlier, when a win at Sandal secured promotion.
The Yorkshiremen are currently 10th after two victories and two defeats.
Hoppers are third, with three home wins and that 29-5 loss at Otley, where Sandal went down rather more heavily, 73-7.
The clubs have had similar romps against stragglers Northwich, Sandal winning 71-18 and Hoppers 77-0.
After having to go off in his last two games, winger Jacob Browne is out this week, replaced by Jordan Dorrington, who has been unavailable.
The only other change sees flanker Toby Harrison back on the bench after injury.
In North One West, Vale of Lune host Bowdon, who have lost all three games so far, and had their clash with Douglas postponed because of Covid fears.
That leaves them in bottom place, with a single point, while Vale are sixth with 11 points from their two wins out of four.
Both meetings went with home advantage last time, Vale winning 40-24 at Powderhouse Lane but losing 35-14 at Bowdon.
There are wholesale changes in the hosts’ pack, mostly because of a wedding.
So Matt Mount props, the versatile Luke Kettlewell hooks and there is a new second-row pairing of Tim Nicholson and Steve Tagg.
Scott Manning returns at centre, with Ollie Jacques moving out to the wing.
It is first-versus-third in National League Two North, when Fylde travel to Rotherham.
The South Yorkshire side were high-flyers in the Championship not too long ago but suffered relegation from National League One last year.
However, they have started with three wins and a draw for a tally of 17 points, just two fewer than Fylde, who have won all four.
Hoppers: Taylorson; Meadows, B Dorrington, Stott, J Dorrington; Pearson, Squirrell; Mabaya, Taylor, Altham, L Procter, Naylor, Murray, Gale, Lamprey. Replacements: Harrison, Trippier, C Procter.
Vale OF LUNE: Ramwell; Jacques, Manning, Turton, Humpage; Finan, Swarbrick; Mount, Kettlewell, O’Hairhir, Nicholson, Tagg, Cross, Ayrton, Wallbank.