Hoppers aim to seal league title quickly

Paul Arnold is hoping to seal the league title by the end of the month
Paul Arnold is hoping to seal the league title by the end of the month

Preston Grasshoppers head coach Paul Arnold is looking to sew-up the North Premier League title as quickly as possible.

The men from Lightfoot Green are within touching distance of an immediate return to National League Two North after relegation last year.

Hoppers’ 24-17 victory over second-place Harrogate last Saturday means they now require two more wins from their final six games to guarantee the league title.

They will not be able to get one of those wins this weekend as Hoppers have a blank weekend, but Arnold is hoping by the start of next month they can start officially planning for life in the division above next season.

“I think it’s two more wins which will do it,” said Arnold.

“Saturday was good, beating Harrogate. That was more about the result than the performance.

“There were a few things that we could have done better but the main thing was getting the five points.

“I think because we had not played for two weeks, we were a little bit rusty at times.

“It has not been ideal – we have not played two much rugby these last few weeks.

“But we are focused and looking forward to getting the job done.”

Arnold – whose side travel to second-placed Lymm a week on Saturday – revealed he will be giving the players the weekend off.

“We will not be doing anything this weekend,” he said. “I will be letting the lads enjoy the Six Nations in peace.

“We had a big session on Tuesday and then enjoyed pizza together and had fun.

“There is a really good spirit and the club is a great place to be.”

Vale of Lune face Blackburn at Powderhouse Lane tomorrow (kick-off 3pm) in a top-of-the-table clash.

A number of Vale players who were unable to make the trip to Douglas 
last weekend return to the squad including, full-back Chris Ramwell, No.8 Evan Stewart and flanker Jack 
Sadler.

The previous fixture was abandoned in December early in the second half due to an injury to a Blackburn player. At this stage Vale were leading 27-10.

Over at Ramsgreave Drive in the second North One West fixture of the season, Vale ran out winners 31-10.

Vale of Lune: Ramwell; Hall, J Dorrington, B Dorrington, Jacques; Turton, Swarbrick; Branford, Powers, Stevens; Fellows, Rainford; Cvijanovic, Ayrton, Stewart. Replacements: Yates, Foxcroft, Sadler.