Fylde RFC look to cut the gap to National Two North leaders further with Huddersfield victory
Boss Alex Loney took satisfaction from seeing Fylde RFC start the year with a nailbiting win away to bogey club Loughborough Students, which left the top of the National Two North table even tighter.
The visitors saw a 19-point lead cut to just one before edging home 32-28 at a ground where they had lost on nine of their previous 10 visits.
Joint-head coach Loney had to be pleased overall and told The Gazette: “We massively respected Loughborough but I didn’t give our past record against them any thought before the game.
“We got ourselves into a really good position and were massively in control at 19-0.
“It may look like we imploded but we were up against a good side who put us under pressure.
“We scored some good tries and came away with a win in our first game for three weeks against a really good team at a ground where we haven’t won a lot.
“They are a club who pose a different challenge to everyone else. They are really well organised, conditioned and motivated. A lot of their players have ambitions to play at a much higher level.”
Loney revealed that the strategy he and fellow team boss Chris Briers impressed on the players was not to over-complicate matters after the mid-season break.
He added: “The message was to keep it simple and go through the basics of rugby. If we stuck to those principles we would get some joy, and in the first 20 minutes, we did. We maintained possession, were accurate in our play and scored tries.
“We did fall away and had some decision-making issues but the players deserve credit. We were up against it and the momentum went over to them, but when it mattered we controlled possession and territory, and when a kickable penalty was presented to us we took it.
“We’ve had tight games we’ve won this season and ones we’ve lost, but ultimately we came through.”
Fylde also knew that starting the year with a victory would lift them up the table as the four teams above them were playing each other. As it turned out, they climbed just one spot to fourth but are now within a point of second-placed Rotherham.
Fylde have overtaken Stourbridge, who were sitting pretty at the top after winning their first 10 games.
It shows how quickly the table can change, strengthening Loney’s view that it is unwise to be too fixated on the standings.
“By paying too much attention to the table you run the risk of taking your eye off the ball,” he said, “though I will admit I had a good look at the table before Christmas.
“You think about what the team is potentially capable of, but the bottom line is it is really tight and if you win loads of games you’ll go up the league.
“The three teams above us have all beaten us away but now we have the prospect of playing them at home, but we can’t look further ahead than Huddersfield on Saturday.”
Fylde were 22-15 September winners away to a Huddersfield side who also started 2022 on a winning note, against bottom club Blaydon, but are 14th in the 16-team division after losing 10 of their 14 games.
Loney, whose side are seeking an eighth straight home win tomorrow (3pm), recalled: “It was a real ding-dong game on a really nice day at Huddersfield.
“They pose a physical threat and you have to get your game right but we came through unscathed at Loughborough and we’re pretty much there injury-wise.
“It will take a good team to stop us at home and we are confident, but we’re not over-confident and Huddersfield will think they have a shot if they play well.”
A memorial event for the former Fylde and Huddersfield player David Grime, organised by his son Matthew, will be held in the clubhouse tomorrow as the anniversary of his passing approaches. Anyone wishing to call in may do so from 2pm.
The Fylde life member played scrum-half in the late 1960s and early ’70s, at the time his father Alan owned this newspaper.
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