Hoppers must cut out sloppy errors

Sam Stott will be on the bench this weekend for Preston Grasshoppers
Sam Stott will be on the bench this weekend for Preston Grasshoppers
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Paul Arnold admits his Preston Grasshoppers team will need to improve tomorrow when they take on third-placed Harrogate.

Hoppers maintained their position at the top of the North Premier table last weekend – but required two late tries to get past mid-table Ilkley 
29-24.

Indeed for much of the match, Hoppers were looking like they were heading for their first defeat of the season.

While pleased with his side’s never-say-die attitude, Arnold knows his team cannot afford to give Harrogate the same advantage.

“It was a good test for us on Saturday,” said Arnold. “To come back against Ilkley after being behind at half-time. We went further behind early in the second half, but managed to come back and win with two late tries.

“Ilkley were very good in the first half – they caused us a lot of problems.

“We were not quite at it in the first half. We were sloppy and made one or two errors, which I was not too happy about.

“I think in the second half, we went back to basics, went direct and got a bit more reward.

“Harrogate is going to be tough. They are a good side.

“They have brought in some decent players and got a few in on loan from Hull Ionians. Looking at some of their match reports, they have a very strong back line, like Ilkley.

“We will need to protect the ball a bit better. We gave it away a bit too much on Saturday which put Ilkley in some good attacking positions.”

With Sam Gale unavailable, head coach Paul Arnold brings himself back into the second row, with Ally Murray reverting to flanker.

Alex Hurst starts at centre, with Sam Stott on the bench, and skipper Paul Millea returns at hooker.

Elsewhere, Vale of Lune welcome “overseas” visitors when Douglas from the Isle of Man make a first visit to Powderhouse Lane in North One West.

Evan Stewart, Damon Hall and Ross Pillow 
are unavailable for Vale and Ben Dorrington is 
injured.

But Jordan Dorrington returns at full-back and Fergus Owens in the centre for Vale.

Andrew Garnett is in the back row for his first senior outing since February 2016.

After ending their long losing streak in away games at Old Albanians last Saturday, Fylde return to Ansdell to welcome long-time opponents Blackheath.

Hoppers: Jordan; Spence, Hurst, Fitzpatrick, Crosley; Ward, Squirrell; Mabaya, Millea, Altham, Arnold, Roddy, A Murray, Trippier, Lamprey. Replacements: Madden, Johnson, Stott.

Vale: J Dorrington; Ramwell, Higgin, Owens, Jacques; Finan, Swarbrick; Ferguson, Powers, O Cowey, Fellows, Rainford, Garnett, Ayrton, S Wallbank. Replacements: Stevens, Cvijanovic, Turton.