Warren Spragg believes the pressure is off his Fylde RFC team away to runaway leaders Coventry on Saturday, which could help them pull off the biggest shock of the season.
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Head coach Spragg acknowledges that most neutral observers will expect nothing other than a crushing home win as his bottom-placed club, who have lost seven successive National One fixtures, visit the Coventry front-runners, beaten only once all season.
Spragg told The Gazette: “Everyone outside our immediate group expects us to be hammered by a team with a massive budget and a deep squad, who are planning for the Championship.
“But the fact no-one gives us a chance takes the pressure off and changes our focus. We can concentrate on our own processes and the little things we can control, like positioning at kick-offs or lineouts on halfway.
“We still have a match to try and win. Coventry conceded 61 points at Blackheath three weeks ago, so they are beatable but we have to be at the top of our game.”
But even if tomorrow’s match does not produce a massive upset, Spragg says his belief in Fylde’s survival prospects will be be undiminished.
His team are 19 points from safety but Spragg said: “We still have to play the four teams directly above us, so there are 20 points up for grabs there. If we can win those four and a couple of others we still have a chance, so we have to be positive.”
Chris Briers is to be given another week to get over his broken arm, though the Fylde backline will be boosted by the return of winger James Bailey after hamstring issues.
That could mean a couple more changes to freshen up the back division. Spragg was considering switching Tom Carleton to full-back and Alex Dolly to scrum-half, which could mean a rest for Greg Nicholls.
Spragg said: “Greg has played every second of this season. Alex could give us more speed at the breakdown and a long kicking game.”