Warren Spragg can’t wait to end 2018 with blockbuster clashes against his Fylde RFC side’s closest geographical rivals in National Two North.
Though the head coach believes tomorrow’s visit to Sedgley Park is “more of a genuine derby in many ways” than the Christmas crunch against Preston Grasshoppers at the Woodlands the following Saturday.
Spragg is determined to avenge Hoppers’ 18-15 start-of-season victory over Fylde at Lightfoot Green, though he admits to feeling closer connections with Bury-based Sedgley Park.
Sedgley are the only side Fylde are yet to play in the league this season, and ahead of tomorrow’s Park Lane encounter, Spragg explained: “It’s just that we’ve played Sedgley Park more often than Preston in recent years. We played them in National One and in pre-season.
“Players have moved between the two clubs such as Danny Maher, who we look forward to seeing on Saturday, and a lot of the lads know each other really well from Lancashire.
“There will be some really good match-ups, like Chris Briers coming up against Matt Riley. That should be really good to watch.”
Briers is expected to return in the centres after missing Fylde’s last three games with a knee injury.
And with captain Adam Lewis also expected back after the birth of a son, Spragg is pleased to have two of his most seasoned stalwarts back in the ranks.
“Lewis should be up for selection and Chris too,” he said. “Their experience will hopefully help us to shore things up.”
Another senior play back on the field for last weekend’s 20-20 home draw with Huddersfield was hooker Alex Loney, who came off the bench to boost a youthful front row featuring props Cal Ford and Bevan Rodd.
Spragg added: “The young front rowers were great. We had two lads on dual registration from Sale Sharks who had just turned 18 and with very few adult games between them. They came up against a good Huddersfield pack and I was really pleased with them.
“It’s good to have Alex back in the fold pushing Ben Gregory all the way for the hooker’s shirt in the starting line-up.
“Alex has lots of experience and physicality, and I wish I could have both of them on the pitch.”
Fifth-placed Fylde are two places and three points above Sedgley and the clubs go into the match in contrasting form.
Fylde are unbeaten in their last five games, whereas Sedgley have won only one of theirs.