Fylde call for Blackheath backlash

Griffiths - out with concussion
Griffiths - out with concussion
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Fylde Rugby Club player-coach Paul Arnold is demanding an instant response from his players when they face up to a crucial clash in National League One against Blackheath at the Woodlands on Saturday.

He said the capitulation at Macclesfield last Saturday when Fylde suffered a demoralising 44-22 defeat was not acceptable.

With that in mind he has made a number of changes.

Greg Smith is handed a debut at fly-half, with skipper Chris Briers switching to full-back.

Scott Armstrong goes on to the wing, with Anthony Bingham named on the replacements’ bench, while Ralph Dowds fills the void in the centre.

Alex Loney comes in at hooker, with Tom Burtonwood stepping down to the bench.

Simon Griffiiths is suffering from concussion after being hurt at Macclesfield and has been stood down for the statutory three matches, so Sam Simpson is named in the front row.

Evan Stewart returns to the back row, as does Oli Brennand on the wing, while Adam Pope steps down to tbe bench and Jordan Dorrington is absent with a shoulder injury.

Smith has a rugby league background, but has also played union with Sedgley Tigers and Liverpool St Helens.

Arnold said: “Smith has looked good in training; he has fast hands and is a goal-kicker.

“Scott Rawlings has done well, but he is not a frontline kicker.”

Fylde need the filip of a win after losing their opening two matches and Arnold said of the dispiriting Macclesfield reverse: “It was a lacklustre performance.

“We underestimated Macclesfield and thought that it was going to be some kind of walk in the park.

“Teams like Macclesfield are coming up and making an impression after promotion right away, proving that there are no easy games in this league.”

Arnold admitted that the Macclesfield reverse came as an unpleasant surprise.

He said: “Pre-season was very good and I thought we were unlucky not to have beaten Birmingham-Moseley the previous week.

“The attitude has been very good and before the Macclesfield game the atmosphere was good and the lads were really buzzing, so it was very disappointing how we played

“I don’t think we could play that badly again. Now I am looking for a backlash against Blackheath.

“We have had a good training session since then and gone through the video and the players who under-performed have had a good telling-off; they know who they are.”

Joining the Fylde squad on match day will be second row forward Gareth Gore, who has rejoined the club.

He could well be in contention for a first team place in the weeks ahead after taking time out of the game to concentrate on setting up a business.

Fylde: Briers; Armstrong, Dowds, Rawlings, Brennand; Smith, Nicholls; Lewis, Loney, Simpson, Gray, Turley, Lamprey, Stewart, Fairbrother. Replacements: Pope, Burtonwood, Goodman, Harrison, Bingham.