War of the Roses at double for Preston Grasshoppers
Preston Grasshoppers tackle the first of back-to-back home games against Yorkshire opponents when Otley visit Lightfoot Green tomorrow.
Then next Saturday, Wharfedale make the trip to Hoppers, who lost both away games against the White Rose clubs earlier in the National League Two North campaign.
Otley, who edged that first clash 28-25, are fifth in the table after 12 victories and six defeats. Hoppers’ third defeat in a row, at Sedgley Park last Saturday, took their record to seven wins and 11 defeats and dropped them to 10th place, narrowly behind Stourbridge and Tynedale who both leap-frogged them last weekend.
Head coach Paul Arnold recalls himself to the starting line-up this week, along with centre James Fitzpatrick. Scott Jordan starts on the wing for the first time since suffering a leg injury injured against Sedgley Park in September.
Vale of Lune and Fylde also face opponents from the other side of the Pennines tomorrow, at home to Ilkley and away to Sheffield Tigers respectively. Fylde’s unconvincing one-point victory over Leicester Lions last Saturday kept them third in the table after 12 wins, a draw and five defeats.
One of those reverses was at home to Sheffield (25-24), but Fylde, despite squandering an early 14-point lead to be left clinging on for a single-point win last weekend, are now on a run of nine unbeaten games.
Vale lost 29-5 at Ilkley in September, one of 12 defeats, alongside two draws and two victories. They remain next to bottom of the North Premier League going into back-to-back home fixtures.
Ilkley, making their first league visit to Powderhouse Lane, are fifth after three successive victories.
Vale’s game at Kirkby Lonsdale last Saturday went to uncontested scrums after they lost Andy Powers (concussion) and Ross Pillow (10 stitches in a head wound). With To’i Aulitia facing a fitness test and James Hesketh having a shoulder operation, Vale’s resources up front are stretched. They will also be without backs Jonty Higgin and Ollie Jacques.
Hoppers: Pope; Jordan, Hurst, Fitzpatrick, Spence; Davidson, Gough; Mabaya, Millea, Altham, Arnold, Howard, Murray, Carlson, Lamprey. Replacements: Purcell, Miller, Procter, Stott, Trueman.