Fylde RFC prepared to tackle an unfamiliar position
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The Woodlands club have become used to competing at the top end of the National Two North table but, this season, the pressing concern is to snap out of their longest losing run in recent years.
Saturday’s 30-17 defeat away to leaders Leeds Tykes was Fylde’s fifth in succession – surely too many already for them to feature in any promotion race.
With no league fixtures this weekend, Fylde remain in the bottom half and have played a game more than all their rivals except the Tykes, who have eight straight bonus-point wins under their belt.
Joint-head coach Briers says spirits and determination remain high, telling The Gazette: “Everyone is still motivated and it’s a test of character.
“We haven’t been used to this in recent seasons and it is a challenge.
“The mood is still good and we know it doesn’t need wholesale changes to put things right, just sharpening up in a few areas.
“Losing becomes a habit, just like winning does, and we need to get out of it.
“We’re not a million miles off and we are creating chances, so sometimes it’s a fine line.”
Given the teams’ contrasting form, Fylde can take heart from a 13-point deficit at Leeds – no-one has run the Tykes closer since Sheffield on the opening day.
It left Briers with mixed feelings ahead of the season’s first weekend off.
He explained: “It’s good to have a break after such a tough start but, with the form we showed at Leeds, you feel we could be in a very different position.
“It was a reasonable performance. We did a lot of good things but made errors which cost us and they were quick to capitalise.
“It was a good battle – the type of game we want to be in and believe we should be in.
“We were making breaks and creating chances without necessarily getting over the line. We’re doing the hard stuff and then making errors.”
Once again, Fylde’s cause wasn’t helped by yellow cards which left them two players short at one point.
Briers added: I thought one was borderline, when we lost Toby Harrison to a few consecutive penalties.
“They also got a yellow card for a build-up of penalties and I felt that could have come earlier.”
Fylde were again without key back-rower Dave Fairbrother but Briers says the club’s injury woes are slowly easing.
“We knew Dave would be out for a few weeks,” he said.
“People are gradually coming back and making a difference – like Oli Parkinson, who has played the last couple of games.”
Leeds’ blistering start has raised suggestions they could surpass the achievements of last season’s champions, Sedgley Park, who were beaten only once.
Briers isn’t convinced, adding: “Leeds play good rugby and do good things but I I think teams will be able to beat them.
“We found opportunities we could have taken on another day and I don’t think they are a team who can go through a whole year unbeaten.”