Rivals are on collision course
Prop forward Adam Lewis is poised to return to the Fylde RFC ranks on Saturday for a crucial home clash with Rosslyn Park in National League One.
Lewis has been ruled out of action for eight weeks after suffering a blow to the head.
It was worrying enough for Lewis to seek medical assessment and Fylde player-coach Paul Arnold said: “Adam has got the all-clear after seeing a neurologist and it is good to have him back because he is such a key player for us.
“It is an important time to get him back particularly as Simon Griffiths is ruled out for two weeks at least because of a broken thumb.
“We have named Adam on the replacements bench, but we will still have to monitor his fitness because he has been out for so long and only had his first full training session back on Tuesday.”
Fylde are expected to be without back row forward Dave Fairbrother for the visit of Rosslyn Park as he is unavailable.
But Evan Stewart is back in the Fylde line-up after missing the 36-0 defeat at the hands of Cambridge last Saturday.
Arnold said: “Evan is a massive player for us and a big influence.”
Prop forward Jake Pope, signed on a dual registration from Aviva Premiership club Sale Sharks, is available again after missing the Cambridge fixture.
However, second row forward George Nott and centre Sam Bedlow, also signed from Sale on a similar basis to Pope, have been recalled by their parent club and are not available for the visit of Rosslyn Park.
The two Fylde wingers Oli Brennand and Anthony Bingham are both absent.
Arnold said: “Brennand is still out with a hamstring injury and it will probably be another two weeks before he is back.
“Bingham has been with the Jamaican seven-a-side squad, who we understand have qualified for the Hong Kong Sevens.”
Fylde’s barren run away from Ansdell continued on Saturday when they lost 36-0 at Cambridge.
Conversely Rosslyn Park had an excellent result as they ‘nilled’ Esher, scoring 30 points without reply.
Arnold said: “We left Fylde at seven in the morning to get down to Cambridge and when we arrived down there it was pouring with rain and there was a strong wind.
“When the match started, our concentration and accuracy rate was not good and were soon 22-0 down.
“In a crazy division like ours when any team can beat another, it is hard to come back from being behind like that.
“In the second half we were camped on their line and looking to make it 22-7, but then Cambridge broke away and scored a try and it was all over.”
Arnold added: “It is up to us as the coaching staff to look at ways in which we can change our strategy when it comes to playing away from home.
Tomorrow’s combatants are level on points – and too close to the relegation zone for comfort – on 24 points apiece.
The Woodlands club are just eight points better off than bottom club Macclesfield; the Cheshire side beat Fylde 44-22 in September.
The picture at the foot of the table is showing clear signs of changing.
A few weeks ago, Blaydon looked down and out as they were anchored at the bottom without a win, but their fortunes look to be on the up.
They ended their losing sequence by beating Fylde and last Saturday continued their revival with a 66-14 win over fellow strugglers Hull Ionians to move off the bottom of the table.
That left Macclesfield, beaten 76-30 by Loughborough Students, to occupy last place in the standings prior to the next round of fixtures.
So, as a result,Saturday’s contest is very much of the ‘must win’ kind for Fylde.
But Arnold said: “Too much can be made of the fact that we have to win all our home matches, but it also important that we address our away form.
“Rosslyn Park are like us and had a slow start to the season and it was a surprise to them near the bottom after the first four matches.
“But their form has improved; they are a well organised team and have some very experienced players.
“We will have to be on our game on Saturday.”
Fylde: Briers; Dorrington, Wilkinson, Dowds, Armstrong; Smith, Nicholls; Pope, Burtonwood, Wild, Arnold, Gray, Turley, Stewart, Lamprey, Replacements: Lewis, Gregory, Vernon, Spragg, Hughes. Kick-off 3pm