Fylde RFC take stock as title race hots up

Head coach Warren Spragg is enjoying a breather before Fylde RFC’s breathless National Two North finale, knowing his squad go into the run-in in great shape.

Friday, 15th March 2019, 2:00 pm
Fylde RFC's Henry Hadfield

This is a free weekend for most of the competing clubs and the Woodlands squad enter it on the back of a 59-12 triumph at South Leicester.

That left them third in the table and just three points behind Hull Ionians, who still occupy the only automatic promotion place but have lost four of their last seven games.

With five to play, the Humbersiders have the least demanding schedule among the title rivals while Fylde are yet to face four of the top six.

Huddersfield play their game in hand at Tynedale tomorrow, when victory could leave the top four separated by just six points.

It could hardly be tighter and Spragg is relishing the decisive battles ahead, starting with Fylde’s penultimate home game against second-placed Chester a week tomorrow.

He told The Gazette: “Yes, we have as good a chance as anyone. Apart from Hull, everyone plays everyone else in their final five games and it’s all about who is the most consistent.

“If we lose one we probably won’t finish top, and if we lose two we probably won’t finish second (the runners-up will face their counterparts from National Two South in a promotion play-off), so the best teams will win.”

With no fresh injuries from the South Leicester game, Fylde hope to have Ralph Dowds, Elliot Horner and Adam Joyner back in contention for the Chester showdown, though it will be difficult to break into the side which demolished South Leicester.

Spragg added: “We definitely got better as the game went on and some of our attacking play was really good.

“They were fighting for their lives but they fell away and we cut loose. We should have scored more tries but you can’t get more than five points.”

Tom Carleton’s switch to the wing from full-back didn’t prevent him from adding a hat-trick to his soaring try tally and fellow winger Henry Hadfield also earned his coach’s praise.

“Tom Grimes was unavailable, and with Lex Botha and James Bailey injured, we had to reshuffle in the backs,” explained Spragg.

“Tom is equally effective on the wing and we know Connor Wilkinson can play full-back.

“Henry is a great lad who works extremely hard to improve his game. He didn’t score but his support play was very good. He made a lot of breaks and made good decisions to create tries.”

Back-rower Dave Fairbrother is due to undergo shoulder surgery today. It is hoped the Fylde talisman, who last played in November, will be raring to go for the start of next season.