Fylde RFC boss will give players a chance to shine against Chester
Fylde head coach Warren Spragg will make changes for tomorrow’s visit to Chester, giving players a chance to stake their claim for a place in next week’s line-up to face unbeaten leaders Caldy.
It follows last weekend’s second home defeat of the season in National Two North, 27-17 against Hinckley, which enabled Sedgley Park to cut the gap between themselves and second-placed Fylde from nine points to four.
They did so by inflicting Chester’s fourth defeat in five matches in 2020, but Fylde boss Spragg knows that nine-point cushion may well be restored if his team can add to Chester’s woes, with Sedgley visiting Caldy tomorrow.
Spragg told The Gazette: “We picked up no points last weekend but we now have a chance to get a jump on our rivals. Caldy v Sedgley Park is one v three and it will be a great game but we have to focus on our own match.
“We will be making three or four changes to the starting team and bringing in players who have been putting their hand up.
“If we went into the Chester game with the same team as last week I would be confident but the right thing is to make changes.
“And part of that is giving those who do play the chance to say, ‘I want to be in the first v second fixture next week’ ... if we are still second. We want to try to knock off the unbeaten team before we have a weekend off.”
Those changes could include the return of second-rower Olli Parkinson after injury. Spragg considered recalling the lock against Hinckley but decided against rejigging his pack after Fylde had scored 114 points in winning their previous two matches.
Spragg explained: “He is still not 100 per cent and it would have been unfair to make changes last weekend.
“Olli could possibly come in now but I’m also thinking about lads who have been on the bench. Ben Vernon and Jacob Conner both came on against Hinckley and made a positive impact. They have probably done enough to warrant a starting place.”
Despite their prolific try-scoring form, Fylde started slowly against Hinckley. And after cancelling out a 15-0 half-time deficit to lead 17-15, the game ultimately got away from Spragg’s side.
The head coach said: “We were sloppy early on and didn’t capitalise on the chances we had. They scored too easily and we made uncharacteristic errors.
“There were two clear shifts in momentum. After half-time we put on a lot of pressure to go ahead. Everything looked really positive but then we made silly mistakes and got nervy and jumpy. We lost confidence and undid the good work we had done. At the end of the day we weren’t good enough against a good team.”
Fylde defeated Chester 42-17 at the Woodlands in October and tomorrow’s opponents find themselves in the lower half of the table, having challenged for promotion last season.
Spragg added: “They are one of a few teams who have suffered after a good season last time. Huddersfield and Preston Grasshoppers also did well last season but haven’t really hit their straps.
“It shows what can happen if you have three or four injuries or lose key players, like Chester losing James Robins to Yorkshire Carnegie.
“But Chester have a strong pack and have a lot to play for after we beat them heavily, so we’ll have to play really well to beat them.”