Fylde RFC v Old Elthamians: Lessons Fylde must learn for coach Spragg

Dave Fairbrother
Dave Fairbrother

Old Elthamians make their first-ever visit to Fylde’s Woodlands home tomorrow with both clubs sorely needing a win.

Both have lost their opening two National One matches, though the Greenwich-based visitors have at least picked up a bonus point from last weekend’s 19-13 defeat by fellow new boys Bishops Stortford.

Fylde coach Warren Spragg rules out any kneejerk reactions to the defeats by Cambridge and Caldy. He told The Gazette: “It’s too early to be making final judgements. We are disappointed by the results but there were periods in both games when we played good rugby in the way I want us to play.

“We need to make fewer mistakes, be more consistent in defence and not cough up the ball. But a lot of the players are new to a league in which the opposition will score if you make one mistake. They need to learn that and get it right for Saturday.

“It could have gone two ways because the first three games were against beatable teams on paper. If we won those games, people would say we were expected to; if we struggled they would write us off. But we won’t judge ourselves at this stage. We are getting stronger with every session and I’m hopeful we can finish in a respectable position.”

Fylde will be captained by prop Adam Lewis , having lost scrum-half Greg Nicholls to a long-term knee injury at Caldy.

Nicholls was due for a scan yesterday and Spragg said: “Greg thought it was serious straight away and as a qualified surgeon he probably knows what he is on about.

“Greg and Adam had formed a really strong partnership but now it’s a change of leadership. Greg is comfortable speaking in front of the group, while Adam is more of a leader by example and I’m not expecting that to change. It’s a great opportunity for others to step up, like Connor Wilkinson and Dave Fairbrother.”

However, Fylde’s tower-of-strength Fairbrother will not be available for several weeks as his Royal Navy duties take him to the USA and there is doubt over second rower Harlan Corrie, who was injured at Caldy. Focussing on the positive, Spragg added: “We should be thankful we have David available for most of season.”

Fylde have confirmed they will maintain their link-up with Sale Sharks and three players from the Premiership club are set to appear at the Woodlands this season.

Prop Jake Pope will return with newcomers and fellow forwards Matt Postlethwaite and Curtis Langdon.

Pope, an England Under-20 international, made 13 starts for Fylde last season.

Second row Postlethwaite, 20, learned his rugby at Ilkley RFC and Ilkley Grammar School before joining Yorkshire Carnegie academy.

He played for England Under-18s in 2015 before moving to Sale Sharks and gaining National League experience in the last two seasons on a dual registration at Sale FC, where he made 48 first-team appearances.

Hooker Langdon, also 20, hails from Somerset and played for Weston Hornets before joining the London Irish academy. He then played on dual registration with Henley Hawks.

Langdon moved on to Sale Sharks and last season played eight times for Macclesfield, who were relegated from National League One.

Fylde team (possible): G Brookes; Bailey, Briers, Wilkinson, Carleton; Smith, Carlton; Pope, Burtonwood, Lewis, Garrod, Ashcroft, Harrison, McCarthy, Vernon. Replacements: Irving, Langdon, Corrie, J Brookes, Grimes.