Fylde RFC aim to complete first half of season with derby double over Preston Grasshoppers
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That’s the view of joint-head coach Chris Briers, who hopes that rising temperatures will enable his side to reach the midway point of the National Two North campaign in style at the Woodlands tomorrow (3pm)
Hoppers recorded their best win of the season last weekend, defeating Rotherham 21-16 in one of only two fixtures in the division to beat the big freeze, while Fylde's trans-Pennine trip to Otley was postponed.
Fylde were 22-6 winners at Lightfoot Green in the second game of the season, following Hoppers' promotion as North Premier runners-up.
But Briers believes their neighbours will be a tougher proposition now and told The Gazette: “The win over Rotherham will give Preston a real boost.
“That's their third win (having also beaten Sheffield Tigers and Huddersfield at home) and I think they have got their teeth into this league now. Beating Rotherham is a really big result for them.”
But Fylde have defeated all comers this season except for unbeaten leaders Sedgley Park, so are confident of completing a derby double.
Fylde have won all seven home games and 11 out of 12 in all, and Briers added: “ We say regularly that if we turn up and perform at our best, then not many teams can handle us.
“This weekend it's especially important that we don't allow any derby nerves or any of the distractions the can come with this fixture to take our minds off playing the game the way we want to.”
Fylde have booked all-weather training facilities this week in the hope Saturday's match will beat the weather.
Having trained at AFC Fylde on Tuesday, Fylde were due to prepare at Myerscough College last night ready for one big game before the three-week mid-season break.
Assessing Fylde's 2022/23 campaign to date, Briers summed up: “We couldn't have asked for much more.
“Of course we were disappointed not to come away from Sedgley with anything, but apart from that one loss everything has gone well.
“We are only two points behind the leaders because we have picked up more bonus points than anyone else (nine), which is really pleasing.
“We have scored the most points in the division and conceded the fewest, so we have to be satisfied with that.”
Fylde's points difference is 81 better than Sedgley's and 159 better than that of Rotherham, who have the division's next-best differential.
And despite the boost of last weekend’s win over the Titans, Hoppers remain 35 points and nine positions behind second-placed Fylde
Briers hopes the Otley postponement could work to Fylde's advantage. “We picked up a couple of niggles in the Sheffield games, so the weekend off will have helped those players and we should be strong for Saturday,” he said.
Fylde's visit to the Leeds club Otley has been rescheduled for February 4, the first blank Saturday of 2023.
After tomorrow, Fylde are next due in action at Harrogate on January 7.