Fylde RFC’s selection poser as they prepare to face Stourbridge

Tom Carleton scoring one of his four tries against Tynedale as a right winger
Tom Carleton scoring one of his four tries against Tynedale as a right winger

Don’t expect many alterations tomorrow to a Fylde RFC side that won 50-10 last time out – but head coach Warren Spragg won’t rule out tweaking his prolific backline once again.

Spragg is never afraid to switch his outside backs around and it worked a treat against Tynedale last Saturday, when Tom Carleton switched to the wing and scored four tries.

His replacement at full-back, Connor Wilkinson, also scored as did player/coach Chris Briers, who took the centre berth from Wilkinson.

This interchangeable back division has been a feature of Fylde’s play this season, enabling National Two North’s second-placed side to keep their opponents guessing as they prepare to visit Stourbridge tomorrow.

Spragg told The Gazette: “The lads played really well last weekend and there was plenty to celebrate at the Legends Dinner in the evening.

“We train with these changes in mind and the combinations don’t change enormously. We’re probably choosing between Carleton and Wilkinson for full-back, Wilkinson and Briers at centre, and Carleton and Lex Botha on the wing, where Tom Forster is involved too.

“It’s good for competition but it’s also about trying to get the right combination for each game.

“We might go slightly differently this weekend and we’re fortunate to have the quality we have.”

One player who probably can expect to be involved again is flanker Phill Mills, who impressed last weekend on his first Woodlands appearance since rejoining the club from Rossendale.

Spragg said: “Phill is fantastic and has brought exactly what we had hoped. He’s quick, confrontational and takes us forward at speed. He links the forwards and backs well and is a really physical, positive addition.”

After an up-and-down first half to their season, seventh-placed Stourbridge won their first two games of 2020 and were just pipped 30-28 at third-placed Sedgley Park last time out.

Spragg said of tomorrow’s West Midlands opponents: “They are a good, well-financed team, who have always underperformed.

“They haven’t really clicked but will want to do better and they will be dangerous. But we’ve played well against them in the past (winning 41-19 at home in October) and are looking forward to the challenge.”

Fylde will again be following Sedgley Park’s fortunes (at Hinckley tomorrow) with great interest as the clubs vie for runners-up spot and a promotion play-off against National Two South’s second-placed finishers.

Fylde currently have a four-point advantage but have played a match more.

The fixture schedule is such that Fylde’s opponents are always the team that faced Sedgley the previous week, though Spragg feels no advantage is gained from this.

“It means I see more of Sedge on video than anyone else and maybe that can help us when we play them in April,” he said. “But it isn’t really benefiting us on a week-to-week basis because there are no real patterns in terms of the way teams are playing against them and are then playing against us.”

Fylde hope to welcome back packman Oli Parkinson and are largely injury-free.

Spragg said: “Otherwise everyone is good to go and all those who played against Tynedale have put their hand up. To be honest it would be difficult to change much.”