Fylde RFC boss has no complaints at day one draw

Fylde RFC boss Alex Loney admits their season-opening 26-26 home draw with Sheffield Tigers was a fair result as he prepares for this Saturday’s derby at Preston Grasshoppers.
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The only team to deny Fylde victory at the Woodlands all last season in National Two North were champions Sedgley Park.

Woodlands joint-head coach Loney gave credit to a Sheffield side that lost both matches against his team in 2022-23.

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Loney told the Gazette: “Sheffield made the better start and put us under pressure.

Fylde face Preston Grasshoppers after drawing with Sheffield Tigers last weekend Picture: Michelle AdamsonFylde face Preston Grasshoppers after drawing with Sheffield Tigers last weekend Picture: Michelle Adamson
Fylde face Preston Grasshoppers after drawing with Sheffield Tigers last weekend Picture: Michelle Adamson
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“A mixture of their good play and our errors and inaccuracy saw them build a lead, but after half-time we did really well.

“We tightened up and got better field position. To come back from 19-7 down to lead 26-19, you then want to close out the game but the draw was the fair result.”

The draw yielded three points for Fylde, stretched their unbeaten home run to 17 months and was achieved by a side far from full strength.

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A key absentee was goal-kicking fly-half Greg Smith, affording Alex Clayton an opportunity to step up and cap his performance with a try.

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Loney added: “We knew Greg would be unavailable and we had planned for it.

“Alex has come through the system and is a talented player who we want to flourish with us.

“We said afterwards that the team we had out was good enough to win.”

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Another surprise on the teamsheet was vice-captain David Fairbrother starting on the bench.

Loney explained: “Fairy is fully fit but has had a lot of work commitments and was not available for pre-season.

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“We wanted to look after him and give him a bit of leeway, and we’re happy with his contribution.”

Last weekend was Fylde’s first competitive game played under the new rule outlawing all tackles above the sternum.

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Loney said any fears about the impact of this change were unfounded, adding: “It’s still early days and maybe we haven’t got the adjustment right yet.

“There were some penalties which would not have been given last year but it didn’t disrupt the game and what I’m seeing doesn’t seem different.”

As has become customary, Fylde’s second fixture is a derby with Hoppers, kicking-off at 2.30pm at Lightfoot Green.

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Loney said: “Obviously there’s room for improvement but the focus for us is still on making a good start.

“Preston started with a good win (43-38 at Tynedale) and will be really confident at home.

“I don’t think anyone will say it’s one we should win but we will go in all guns blazing.”