THE rugby year 2011 comes to a premature end for Fylde at Wharfedale tomorrow.
There will be no bells peeling just yet to ring the old year out – only a warning from coach Mark Nelsoon ringing in the players’ ears.
Nelson said: “This will be Wharfedale’s cup final and they have already said as much.
“Even if weather conditions close in, they will move heaven and earth to make sure the game is played.
“We will have to make sure we give Wharfedale respect. They are the longest-established side in this league and we will have to be prepared for any kind of conditions.
“There was one league match this season when we needed to have a drinks break because the weather got too hot – tomorrow we have to be prepared if it is ice or snow.”
Nelson is unable to finalise his starting line-up because of injuries, particularly among the forwards.
Flanker Steve McGinnis needs a test on an injured groin, while Gareth Rawlings has been suffering from a back spasm.
Front rower Alex Loney has been ruled out with an ankle injury but should be OK for the resumption of the season in the new year.
Also out of action is Gavin Cartmel, who suffered a knee injury in the bruising victory over Cinderford last Saturday.
Fylde are awaiting the outcome of a scan before discovering how long the Cumbrian teenager, only just introduced to first-team action, will be sidelined.
Oliver Viney, who was Cartmel’s replacement in the win over Cinderford, is given a start at Wharfedale.
Nick Royle returns on the wing after his global tour of duty with the England Sevens international side, which took in the Australian Gold Coast, Dubai and South Africa.
Nelson said: “I not sure the pitch or the weather will be what Royle has been used to over the past three weeks!”
Wharfedale made an indifferent start to the campaign and lost 39-12 at the Woodlands in September.
But they have picked up some highly encouraging results of late, winning their last four against Barking 29-3, Cambridge 31-17, Tynedale 39-5 and Coventry away last Saturday. That match ended 8-3, suggesting Wharfedale will be hard to break down defensively, which will pose a test to a Fylde team that has gained a lasting reputation for playing expansive rugby.
Nelson said: “Wharfedale have a very good back row and have overcome a poor start. Their recent results show they have started to play to their potential.”
Fylde include Pete Altham, who will be returning to play on his old ground for the first time since leaving Wharfedale.
Altham’s brother Joe still plays there but has been injured of late.
The match kicks off at 2pm and Fylde officials say that anyone thinking of crossing the Pennines to see the match should aim to arrive early. Parking is likely to be at a premium because of a Dickensian pageant in the area.
Fylde (from): Viney; Royle, C Briers, Waywell, Brennand; Kenyon, Wallwork; Livesey, Roddam, Altham, Rawlings, Arnold, Ferguson, J Beaumont, Stewart, McGinnis, Stephenson, S Beaumont, S Briers, Depledge, Griffiths, Lavelle.