Battle-hardened Fylde RFC ready for winter and Luctonians test

Fylde RFC showed their adaptability in last weekend’s 28-12 win over Hull Ionians, which will stand them in good stead for the months ahead.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 12:30 pm

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Fylde 28 Hull Ionians 12: Battling to a win at the Woodlands

That’s the view of joint-head coach Chris Briers, who knows Fylde’s free-flowing style will be difficult to maintain on heavy winter pitches.

Conditions were tough on Saturday but Fylde defied an Ionians fightback to record a fifth straight home win in National Two North and climb a place to third.

Ben Gregory scores for Fylde against Hull Ionians Picture: CHRIS FARROW

Briers told The Gazette: “Conditions weren’t great and we had to adapt our game a little. We still tried to play some rugby but we had to tighten up in a few areas.

“It was a good contest because both defences worked really hard and were difficult to break down.

“I think the result was fair because we showed a bit more creativity and took our opportunities when they came, but it was only in the final 10 minutes that the result was finalised.”

That 100 per cent home record is key to Fylde’s ambitions for the season but Briers added: “It’s important to win as many as you can on the road as well. We’ve lost two away games, which isn’t ideal, but we’ve picked up since losing at Sedgley Park.

“You can’t afford any slip-ups because the team at the top isn’t slipping up.”

That’s Stourbridge, who are six points better off than Fylde after winning all 10 games to date.

They visit the Woodlands for a crunch clash a week on Saturday and Briers added: “I’m not sure how different this Stourbridge team is from the one pre-Covid but they have definitely done something right. We had two convincing wins over them the season before.”

First comes this weekend’s trip to Luctonians, whose season of struggle has been lifted by back-to-back wins.

Fylde’s previous match against them, in March last year, would be their last for 18 months as the game entered its enforced hibernation.

That now seems like a bad memory for Fylde as Briers explained: “We’re pretty much back into the swing of the week-to-week routine now and it does feel very much like we’ve never been away.

“When a player does pick up an injury, you do wonder whether the 18 months off has had an impact but we’ll never really know.

“We know the pandemic is still with us and some clubs have had to call off games. We had some players test positive in pre-season but it hasn’t impacted the squad as a whole, so I suppose we’ve been quite lucky.”

The only fresh injury concern ahead of the trip to Herefordshire concerns Tom Grimes, who has successfully switched from the wing to full-back in recent weeks.

“Tom got a facial injury on Saturday but we don’t think it’s so serious,” said Briers.

“We have reasonable depth in the backs and can afford to try players in different positions. That versatility does give us options to shuffle the backs.”

This may well prove to be the last time Fylde make the round trip of 300-plus miles to Luctonians’ Mortimer Park, with the fourth tier of English rugby set to be further split into three regionalised divisions next season.

Fylde’s two previous visits to Lucs have brought a win and a defeat.

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