Sheffield tests toughen Fylde RFC for Otley challenge

Fylde RFC are battle-hardened for one of the toughest tests of their season so far after two hard-fought wins over Sheffield opposition.
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This Saturday, Fylde visit an Otley side (2pm kick-off) who have taken the step up to National Two North in their stride following promotion as North Premier champions.

The Leeds club have climbed to fourth on the back of six successive wins.

Greg Smith made his 150th Fylde appearance against Sheffield TigersGreg Smith made his 150th Fylde appearance against Sheffield Tigers
Greg Smith made his 150th Fylde appearance against Sheffield Tigers
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Otley are the only club Fylde are yet to face this season and they cross the Pennines for the penultimate game of 2022 in form themselves after winning all but one of their first 12 matches.

Their last two matches have seen Fylde restrict both Sheffield RUFC and Sheffield Tigers to a single try, though both ‘Steel City’ sides limited Fylde to three and so denied them a bonus point.

That has enabled unbeaten leaders Sedgley Park to move two points clear of Fylde, whose joint-head coach Alex Loney told the Gazette: “We’ve had two tough games and we’re happy to get two wins. We felt more comfortable in Saturday’s game, having taken the early lead (the previous match having remained 0-0 for most of the first half).

“We’ll take any win in this league. We always strive to get four tries but it won’t happen every week.

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“The defensive side doesn’t get as many headlines as the attack but the effort in defence is really important.

“Sedgley had a good win at the weekend (beating Sheffield 47-17) but we aren’t looking too closely at their scores. We have to focus on the opponents we are playing, otherwise you get into trouble.

“We know we have massive games ahead, including the rematch with Sedgley.”

That isn’t until March and Loney certainly isn’t looking beyond Otley, adding: “We’ve been aware of Otley’s form in recent weeks, knowing we have to go there.

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“It will be a really tough game and we go knowing we will have to be at our best, particularly on the mental side, and ready for a real fight. We want to compete with the best and Otley are up there.”

Saturday’s win over the Tigers saw Fylde drop their first home point of the season, though seven Woodlands wins out of seven and 34 points from a possible 35 is some achievement.

Fylde have scored more home points than any of their rivals – and conceded fewer – but Loney has been just as happy with performances on the road, adding: “We have been over the moon with our form throughout the season, full stop.

“We’ve had some really tough wins away, as well as at home. It’s put us in a strong position and we want to keep that consistency home and away.”

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One model of consistency is fly-half Greg Smith, who made his 150th senior appearance last weekend.

Smith’s total of 109 points in NL2N this season is bettered only by Richard Hayes of Rotherham (129).

Loney said: “Greg is a very talented player, who is always up there in the point-scoring table.

“I’m over the moon he has played so many games for us and hopefully he will play many more because he’s motivated and is a big part of our plans.”