By David Whittle
Lockwood welcomes the Grasshoppers from over the Pennines as the pre-season examinations begin.
Pre-season preparations begin in earnest for Huddersfield RUFC this weekend as they tackle former league rivals Preston Grasshoppers in the first friendly match of the year at Lockwood Park. The match will prove to be a stern test for a new look Huddersfield team featuring their latest signing and former Rugby League starlet, fly half Tom Hodson.
Hodson will be one of three players making their debut for Huddersfield with centre Danny Chappel and Full Back Elliot Hodgson appearing in a starting XV captained by prop Alex Battye, in the absence of regular captain Nick Sharpe. The game will also feature the return of several familiar faces to the Huddersfield squad including wings Ben Mitchell and Howard Hanks, hooker Ben Morrell and Adam Sutcliffe whom all return after long absences from the first team squad.
Amidst all the changes playing department, this summer has also seen the management team undergo an overhaul with new coach’s Gareth Lewis and Ian Shuttleworth guiding the squad into the upcoming season.
Lewis, who will be fulfilling a player coach role for the coming year, is under no illusions of just how tough a test this fixture will be of his burgeoning squad: “It will obviously be a huge game against a Preston Grasshoppers side that is tipped for honours this season. With a number of new combinations it will be a challenge for us.”
Huddersfield registered two league victories against Preston last year but saw their season finish disappointingly with relegation. The aim for the club for this coming season is promotion back to National league 2 with Lewis reaming coy on his team’s chances of promotion: “ We know the strength of this league and it would be foolish of me to predict a league position for us but fingers crossed we can get a few early victories then who knows”.
The Rugby begins at Lockwood Park at 1:30 pm with the Huddersfield Falcons team competing against their Preston counterparts with the first XV due to kick off at 3:00pm. Admission is free for both fixtures with all-comers welcome to come and support the club.
Falcons XV vs Preston Grasshoppers:
1. Jack Smith 2.Taras Santar 3. Joe Shields 4. Edward Birkhead 5. James Bodsworth 6. Ross Thornton 7.Feargus Haston 8. Henry Ward 9. William Brian 10. Jon Coles 11. Alex Brook 12. Tom Van Rooyen 13. Danny Chappell 14. Elliot Knight 15. Oliver Scrimshaw 16. Max 17. Ryan Smith 18. Ross Baggs
Huddersfield 1st XV vs Preston Grasshoppers:
1. Alex Battye 2. Ben Morrell 3. Anthony Stringwell 4. Gavin Rhodes 5. Nick Rhodes 6. George Hinchliffe 7. Ben Hoyle 8. Gareth Lewis 9.Joel Hinchliff 10. Tom Hodson 11. Howard hanks 12 . Tom Owen 13. Mike Clarke 14. Ben Mitchell 15. Elliot Hodgson 16. Loz Sanderson 17. Robert Sykes 18. Adam Sutcliffe