Fylde facing stern test

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FYLDE rugby club will be tested to the maximum tomorrow when they take on league leaders Ealing Trailfinders at the Woodlands.

And coach Mark Nelson predicts the contest will be an ideal remedy for those rugby enthusiasts deprived of action because of the recent freeze-up.

Nelson said: “People in the North West have been without rugby for the past couple of weeks, but this is an ideal opportunity to see us play the top team in the league.

“Ealing are doing exceptionally well and in my opinion are firm favourites to win promotion – they want to be a Championship side

“We are certainly going to give it our best shot - you always want to test yourselves against the top sides.

“People have been asking if we are going to change our style of play in inclement conditions or a boggy pitch, but we will be playing the same way.”

Lock Gareth Rawlings returns on the bench after his lengthy suspension, but centre Mike Waywell, back at the Woodlands after a spell in Hong Kong, does not figure.

However, as part of Fylde’s rotation policy, Waywell is likely to get a run in the match at Cinderford a week tomorrow.

Richard Kenyon should be fit to take his place after some concern over a hamstring injury, while his half-back partner Ryan De La Harpe has been cleared to play after concerns about a foot injury were not founded.

Tomorrow’s clash shows all the hallmarks of being one of the most attractive matches seen at the Woodlands all season.

Fylde ran Ealing close in the reverse fixture back in October, only going down 36-31, a scoreline that demonstrates both sides’ attacking intentions.

The visitors boast a pair of potent wingers in Phil Chesters and Owen Bruynseels.

Ealing are on an outstanding run in form as befits their status as the National League One pacesetters – they have notched six victories and a draw in their last seven matches.

Fylde are hoping that the pitch, snow-bound this week, will be fit and that the forecast thaw in temperatures arrives.

An inspection was planned for this afternoon.

Nelson said: “There is snow in the forecast, followed by rain - my gut feeling is that the match will be on.”

Fylde: C Briers; Viney, S Briers, Barrow, Brennand; Kenyon, De La Harpe; Birchall, Roddam, Griffiths, Banks, Arnold, Vernon, Stewart, S Beaumont. Replacements: Altham, Burtonwood, Rawlings, Johnson, Wallwork.