Fylde penalty count frightens coach Arnold

Chris Briers is back to lead Fylde
Chris Briers is back to lead Fylde
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Fylde RFC player-coach Paul Arnold has warned his team to cut out the “frightening” penalty-count.

Ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Ampthill and District (3pm), Arnold warned that such indiscretions cost wins in the final analysis.

He cites last Saturday’s 34-all draw at the Rectory Field against Blackheath as a clear case in point.

Arnold told The Gazette: “We gave away 14 penalties against Blackheath, while Blackheath gave away four penalties. The difference is frightening.

“When you go to a place like Blackheath and score five tries, you expect to come away winning the game.

“That’s why it felt more like a defeat, even though we drew the game.

“But I suppose I would have settled for three points if we had been offered that beforehand.”

The Fylde player-coach insisted: “We have to to cut down the number of penalties we give away.

“We played some superb stuff against Blackheath and got some great tries.”

Another source of concern was that Fylde had three yellow cards in London last weekend. This was after the club received a warning from the Rugby Football Union about their conduct after four Fylde players were sent off in the opening 11 league matches of the season.

The visit of Ampthill to Ansdell will be a first for both clubs.

Following the Bedfordshire club’s rise through the leagues in recent seasons, this will be their first match at the Woodlands.

It is also Fylde’s final home game of 2015.

Skipper Chris Briers, who was unavailable for the Blackheath game, returns to lead the team from centre.

Greg Nicholls is unavailable because of his work commitments, so Ryan De La Harpe returns to the scrum-half berth.

Front row forward Simon Griffiths is still being troubled by an ankle injury but it is hoped he will be fit for the trip to Wharfedale a week tomorrow.

Ben Vernon is still suspended, while Joe Robinson has not been considered. He is working in Cumbria on urgent remedial and repair work following the flooding in that county.

The club’s selection options are to be further boosted by having hooker and forwards coach Alex Loney available for a period of five weeks, starting next weekend.

With that in mind, the experienced Loney is likely to get a run-out for the club’s second XV, Fylde Hawks, who play Sale’s second string tomorrow.

Danny Maher, another member of the first-team squad, is also likely to figure for the Hawks.

He needs a full 80 minutes, so the plan is for him to play at hooker in the first half, then be replaced by Loney.

Maher will operate at flanker in the second half against Sale.

Ampthill come to Fylde having just put an end to a losing run. The side coached by former Wales international fly-half Paul Turner had lost three matches in succession until they stopped the rot with a 21-20 victory against Hull Ionians last Saturday.

Arnold said: “Paul Turner is a very good coach and they look to be a forward-orientated side.”

Fylde: Dorrington; Brennand, Briers, S Rawlings, Bingham; Johnson, De La Harpe; Birchall, Mills, Lewis, Rawlings, Gray, Goodman, Stewart, Fairbrother. Replacements: Lavelle, Burtonwood, Moon, Arnold, Spragg.