Fylde RFC head to Otley tomorrow determined to make amends for their first home defeat of the season against Hull last weekend.
Head coach Warren Spragg believes the lowly Humbersiders occupy a false position in National Two North but the Fylde boss felt his side should have wrapped up a 10th win of the season by half-time.
Fylde’s 22-20 Woodlands setback did come as a shock as Hull were in the bottom three and had won none of their previous eight games, though they had finished no more than five points behind in the last five of those.
Spragg told The Gazette: “I think we were up against a much better side than their league position suggests, but we were 17-5 up and had two clear tryscoring opportunities after that.
“We made a mistake for the first of them, then with the second we dropped the ball and they went the full length, so we should have been 20 clear at half-time.
“They did pick it up in the second half, when we defended well but our attack was ineffective. We didn’t get the go-forward we wanted from the pack to move the ball wide and our kicking game was poor.
“We should have been able to adapt better. But we’ve reviewed the areas we should have got right and the players have put their hand up, so we’re ready to go again this weekend.”
Injuries in the pack didn’t help, with hooker Ben Gregory starting at flanker, and the likely return of Ben Vernon this weekend has been countered by an injury to Hal Chapman.
Spragg added: “Ben did well at flanker. We thought he could find more space in a different position in that game and he did really well.
“But he’ll probably be back at hooker on Saturday. Ben O’Ryan will start at seven and will do a job for us.
“We’ll have Ben Vernon back but Fairy (Dave Fairbrother) will be out for another week and fingers crossed we won’t make it a hat-trick of injured number eights this weekend.”
One talking point last weekend concerned Fylde’s decision not to attempt a long-range penalty goal when they were two points behind in the second half.
Spragg always backs his players to make their own decision in such circumstances and he does not question their judgement.
He explained: “I trust the players to make the decision because they are the ones in the moment who can see how the game is developing. There was still a way to go and I agree with their thinking.”
Fylde will again be unable to call upon their dual-registered players from Sale Sharks tomorrow.
Quicksilver backs Joe Carpenter and Tom Roebuck linked up with England Under-20s yesterday for an elite training camp at Bisham Abbey to prepare for next year’s Six Nations Championship.
It will be 10th v second in West Yorkshire as Fylde face an Otley side beaten heavily at Sedgley Park last time out.
“Otley are not a bad side but they have not hit their straps yet,” said Spragg.
“They will be very proud at home and we will have to put in a good performance to win.”
A return to winning ways for Fylde would keep the pressure on Caldy, who replaced them at the top last weekend and are not expected to struggle at home to Huddersfield tomorrow.
The Wirral club also have a game in hand for good measure.