Fylde RFC boss Chris Briers ready for big test against leaders Sedgley Park
Fylde RFC are looking forward to a searching test of their credentials when they visit National Two North leaders Sedgley Park tomorrow.
The Ansdell club responded well to their first defeat of the season at Rotherham with a 48-18 win over Wharfedale at the Woodlands last weekend.
That made it five wins out of six for Fylde, who still find three teams above them in what is developing into a hugely competitive league, with only two points separating the top five.
It all adds to the sense of occasion surrounding this weekend’s trip to Manchester and Fylde’s joint-head coach Chris Briers told The Gazette: “Looking at the table, yes, this is one of the big tests. It’s our local derby and a lot of the players know each other from the Lancashire squad.”
Teams Fylde know less about are also causing a stir, such as Stourbridge, who are below them on points difference but boast the league’s only 100 per cent win record.
For Briers, it shows how the pandemic has turned the game on its head.
He added: “You have Stourbridge, with their game in hand. They are just one team you maybe don’t know much about doing really well.
“Last time we played them it was a high-scoring affair but it looks like they have completely changed things around.”
Fylde were also transformed in Saturday’s second half against Wharfedale as Briers explained: “We weren’t particularly great in the first half. I thought we’d continued like we left off at Rotherham – slow ball, a few errors, allowing Wharfedale plenty of possession and making it difficult for ourselves.
“We were a completely different side in the second half and played like we had in the first four games.”
It was a day for another Fylde debutant to get on the scoresheet in winger Ben Turner.
Briers said: “Ben is a player we had wanted to give an opportunity to early in the season but the competition in the outside backs is so strong.
“With Scott Rawlings picking up an injury in training on Thursday and Tom Grimes unavailable, it opened the door for Ben and he took his chance.”
Fylde will be forced into a further change tomorrow: Harlan Corrie must take a break under the game’s concussion protocols following last weekend’s head injury.
Asked if that could signal a return for vice-captain Dave Fairbrother after injury, Briers said: “We will miss Harlan for the next couple of weeks but we are quite confident in the depth we have.
“Dave is getting close and his progress is monitored week by week. It may be that we have to look at him seriously for this weekend but we also have to protect him from himself and make sure he doesn’t come back until he is ready.”
Briers took sole charge of the side against Wharfedale in the absence of Alex Loney, the other half of Fylde’s head coaching duo.
“We always knew Alex’s school commitments would keep him away on certain weekends and that’s no issue,” he said.
“Most of our job is done during the week. On a matchday it just needs someone to bring the substitutes on and give the players a bit of motivation and direction.”
The Lancashire teammates in the Fylde and Sedgley ranks will be able to discuss the revival of the County Championships when they renew acquaintances.
After a review into the historic competition, the RFU has confirmed it will resume at the end of the season and Briers is thrilled.
He said: “A lot of us have missed county rugby and it’s good to have it back.
“Some people don’t see the value of it but it’s hugely important to the game in Lancashire. There’s a real passion for the County Championship here and the lads love playing in these games.”
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