Fylde driving force out of vital Woodlands clash

Fylde v Rosslyn Park
Fylde v Rosslyn Park
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Fylde RFC will be without combative back row forward Dave Fairbrother for the vital home clash with long time rivals Rosslyn Park in National League One on Saturday (kick-off 3pm)

Fairbrother, a forceful presence in the pack, has been stood down after suffering a head injury while playing for the Royal Navy in a representative match in the United States.

Coach Warren Spragg said of Fairbrother: “He got concussed while playing over there and will have to pass a head assessment before he can play again.”

Seldom in their recent history has a win been of such paramount importance for Fylde.

They have gone four matches without a win – and without a solitary point – and are marooned at the bottom of the table.

Tomorrow, the take on a Rosslyn Park side determined to bounce back after a setback of their own; hit by injury to a number of keep players they suffered a 31-24 home reverse to Bishops Stortford last Saturday.

Spragg says that there is still time to pull the situation round, despite what has all the appearance of a parlous position in the table.

He said: “I would be worried if we were in the same position in February then that would be very serious for us, but not now.

“If you pull off back-to-back wins, then that would move you into a position back up into mid-table.

“There is still plenty of time.”

Fylde are likely to rely on much the same starting line-up that played at Plymouth Albion last Saturday and went down to a 68-15 defeat.

One of the club’s summer recruits, Harlan Corrie, who missed that match through injury, is expected to return to the squad as one of the forward replacements, as is back rower Ben Vernon, who was unavailable for the trip to the West Country.

Spragg said: “We played some really good rugby for 55 minutes, but we fell apart after that and made mistake after mistake.”

Australian-born Alex Dolly has been given a vote of confidence to continue in the scrum-half role as Fylde prepare to welcome Rosslyn Park to the Woodlands.

He has been pitched into the fray after an early-season knee injury sidelined Greg Nicholls, the club captain and first choice for the number nine role.

Dolly, who has also played for Sale Jets, is the brother of Nic Dolly, who is on the books of Premiership side Sale Sharks.

Alex is an all-round sportsman, who has also been playing league cricket with the Flowery Field club, which is based in Hyde, Greater Manchester,

Fylde coach Warren Spragg has been happy with Dolly’s contribution to date.

He said: “Alex has been excellent for us and I have been pleased with how he has performed for us.

“It is not really his natural position because he also plays at full-back and at number 10; he is playing alongside an experienced fly-half in Greg Smith, so he is able to learn a lot.

“Scrum-half may not be his best position, but he has done well. He has a good kicking game and to all intents and purposes he is a Fylde player until the end of the season.”

Dolly can expect an extended run in the continued absence of Nicholls.

There was speculation that his knee injury could be career-threatening, but it may not be as serious as that, though it could mean that he is sidelined for a matter of months.

Utility back Tom Grimes, who signed for Fylde from Blaydon during the summer, is set to leave the club in the New Year.

He is to journey to Australia in an attempt to broaden his rugby experience.

Grimes, who can play centre or on the wing, made 70 appearances for Blaydon before his arrival at the Woodlands, but Spragg says that Fylde have not seen the best of the former Preston Grasshoppers junior so far.

The Fylde coach said: “I don’t think that Tom has lived up to his own expectations as yet and I don’t think we have seen him play as well as he can.

“He is due to go to Australia some time in the New Year and to get experience over their can only improve him in the long run.”