Fylde in hunt for fine nines

Ryan de la Harpe in action for Fylde against Sale Sharks.
Ryan de la Harpe in action for Fylde against Sale Sharks.
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FYLDE RFC are still in the running to sign Namibian World Cup scrum-half Ryan De La Harpe.

And there is still a chance another no.9 could be on his way back to the Woodlands.

Craig Aikman, who has recently left Fleetwood, is considering his options, one of which is to return to Fylde.

Aikman is currently recovering from a fractured cheekbone. Yet another scrum-half, the highly-regarded Nathan Fowles, is due to link up with the club soon.

De La Harpe, who is also weighing up where his career will take him next, featured in the Fylde side beaten 38-26 by Sale Sharks in Saturday’s warm-up game at the Woodlands.

He came on as a 23rd-minute replacement for Martin Wallwork on an afternoon when Fylde pushed Sale all the way.

Indeed, Fylde will have taken more encouragement from the match than their top-flight opponents, who would not have expected to be run so close.

Fylde fielded two triallists from Burnley, prop Luca Angelou and back rower Jack Stockdale, as well as former Morley centre Scott Hough.

Skipper Evan Stewart and Steve McGinnis were both sidelined through injury, while Fylde were also missing Oli Brennand, Nick Royle, Jonny Roddam, Chris Briers and Gareth Rawlings, the latter suspended until the New Year.

Former Sale wing Curtis Strong, who has trained with Fylde in pre-season, played for the home side.

A strong Fylde team included Josh Beaumont in the second row. He is registered with both clubs and played against his brother Sam for the first time.

Full-timers Sale started training in early-June, a full month before Fylde, and dominated the first 15 minutes but the home side defended doggedly.

Sale nosed in front after 27 minutes with a try wide on the left by wing Tom Brady, former Fylde player Jordan Davies adding the goal points.

Brady scored his second from centre Johnny Leota’s break, then Davies glided through a huge gap and goaled himself to make it 19-0 at half-time.

Brady completed his hat-trick from close range after neat sleight of hand by Leota, Davies goaling again.

Fylde had performed pluckily and were rewarded on 52 minutes when Warren Spragg scrambled over after Adam Jackson was held up. New signing Chris Johnson added the goal points.

Fylde claimed a second try after Sale’s Cillian Willis’ stray pass was gratefully received by Johnson, who cantered in gleefully from 45 yards.

That trimmed Sale’s lead to 26-12 and Fylde cut the deficit further with an excellent try from deep, instigated by Spragg and finished in the left corner by Ralph Dowds.

Johnson landed the conversion and with nine minutes remaining Fylde were only one score behind.

Within 90 seconds Brady claimed his fourth touchdown, Nick Macleod converting.

Fylde were not finished and Spragg crossed for a try after a tremendous break by Stockdale, Johnson converting, and Mike Haley responded with a try for Sale.

The eye-catching performance of debutant flanker Ben Vernon was just one of the positives for Fylde.