FYLDE RFC coach Mark Nelson is looking forward to clinching the National Two North title at the Woodlands this weekend as he reflected on the club’s best ever run of league wins.
A sequence of 14 straight victories started against Loughborough Students on November 27 and ended against the same club last Saturday, when the champions-elect were beaten 44-22.
With Loughborough desperate for victory in their bid for second place and a promotion play-off, Nelson had no complaints over a rare setback.
He said: “That was their full-strength side and I’d give them credit rather than criticising our performance.
“They had prepared for this match like a professional club, training all week. They knew they had to beat us and that is the best any club has played against us all season, though everything that could have gone for them did. We rallied well in the second half but it was just one of those days.”
Fylde have three more matches to claim the one victory they need to clinch the title and automatic promotion to National One, though the wait will surely not continue beyond Saturday, when a rock-bottom and winless Manchester side visit Ansdell.
Although the idea of clinching the title in front of a bumper home crowd has obvious appeal, Nelson rejected any notion of his side easing off the accelerator at Loughborough.
While admitting that “psychologically it was a very difficult game for us”, Nelson insisted: “You always want to get over the line as quickly as possible because sport is never predictable. We now have the black ball over the pocket and we have a shot to nail the title.”
Fylde started 2011 with a gruelling schedule of 16 successive Saturdays of league rugby but Nelson has no doubt about the secret of his side’s success.
“You always have to focus on the next match,” he said. “We never looked beyond the next Saturday. We were relentless in what we tried to do. We just pursued excellence, and the side gained steel as the results came.
“When you have self-belief and focus, you will dig deep like we did in the matches against Luctonians and Preston (both won with last-gasp tries). It has been an incredible run, especially for a club which had gone through six or seven seasons with a very poor away record.”
*Thornton Cleveleys RU eased their relegation fears with a 65-0 thrashing of Vale of Lune in division three north of the University of Salford League.
Adam Dickens’ break resulted in Mark Burrows running in the first of their ten tries in their final home game of the season.
Ryan Hanson sent Neil Wright over for the second try and Dave Minikin dived in for the third, converting two himself to make it 19-0 at half-time. Minikin unselfishly sent Ben Calvert clear for his first try for the club.
Stephen Hatch scored the next two tries, then Johni Drake offloaded for Dickens to score. Drake set up the next try too, Michael Gyi outpacing the defence, before Wright scored his second. Minikin rounded off his man of the match display with a second try to add to his seven goals for a points haul of 25.
*FYLDE Wanderers Altrinham Kersal II 28-29 in Bateman BMW Conference B at the Woodlands.
In University Of Salford Division One, Fylde III edged out Carlisle II 31-29. Fleetwood II lost 20-0 at home to to Pendle I in Two North. Fylde V defeated Blackburn III 187-7 in Four North, while Fleetwood III lost 17-12 at Preston Grasshoppers V. In Five North, BAe Warton I won 45-5 away to Clitheroe II.