A fortnight’s break after this weekend is warmly welcomed by Fylde RFC head coach Warren Spragg – as it helps his promotion-chasing side to give tomorrow’s opponents South Leicester their utmost focus and respect.
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After visiting National Two North’s third-bottom club tomorrow, third-placed Fylde’s final five opponents include top-six rivals Chester, Huddersfield, Otley and Sedgley Park.
Fylde bounced back from their defeat by leaders Hull Ionians with last Saturday’s impressive 54-10 Woodlands win over Stourbridge.
And Spragg told The Gazette: “With a two-week break to follow, we can give 100 per cent focus to this weekend and complete respect to South Leicester, who are fighting for their lives.
“If the Chester game had been the week after South Leicester, you can fall into the trap of looking too far ahead.
“It’s a break for some battered and bruised bodies before the final run-in in a hectic season.”
South Leicester have leaked 59 points to top two Hull and Chester, in their latest fixtures and Fylde head there in the highest of spirits after a praised performance against Stourbridge.
Spragg said: “We got the response we wanted from the lads, just like after the game we lost at Sheffield Tigers in January. We got some stuff wrong at Hull and we put it right, and the players should be really proud of their overall performance.
“We weren’t perfect – the lineout was probably the worst it has been all season in terms of clean possession – but we had a lot of attacking play and the support play was a joy to watch.
“Sometimes when Connor Wilkinson or Tom Carleton make a line- break other lads expect them to run it in but that won’t happen every time.
“We need to support in order to finish chances and it was pleasing that something we had identified and addressed in the week worked so well in the game.”
As for the tender age of this squad, the coach added: “Yes, we have a lot of players around 18-20, but in terms of league experience they have had a really quick apprenticeship to learn their trade.
“A lot of them have played 50-70 league games and in that sense are more experienced than a lot of their older opponents.”
Even so, Spragg was delighted to welcome warhorse Olli Parkinson back after injury last weekend and hopes to have stalwarts Matt Garrod and captain Adam Lewis available tomorrow.
The coach said: “With Olli you get a high tackle count and workrate as wel as a consistent level of performance, and we probably underestimate his rugby skills. He is quicker than we give him credit for.
“Hopefully we’ll have him, Matt and Nick Ashcroft fit for the rest of the season.”
Skipper Lewis missed last weekend’s match after being concussed against Hull and Spragg said: “As long as Adam comes through the return-to-play protocol and is signed off by the doctor today, he will hopefully be fit to play.”
Scrum-half Cam Crempton will hopefully be available too after injury ended his afternoon early against Stourbridge.
“Cam had a bit of neck soreness before half-time and ended up going to hospital,” explained Spragg, “but we’re happy it’s nothing more than a muscle problem, so credit to the medical staff.”