Fylde aces on Twickers trail

Warren Spragg - on the wing at HQ
Warren Spragg - on the wing at HQ
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Nine Fylde RFC players are in the Lancashire starting line-up for Sunday’s County Championship final against Graham Dawe’s Cornwall at Twickenham.

Lancashire have reached Twickenham so many times that it almost seems as though they have a season ticket to the home of rugby union.

But coach Mark Nelson says that the feeling is always special, regardless of how many times they get there and that his -players intend to make the most of it.

Lancashire topped the northern group with a 100 per cent record to make it to Twickenham to take on a Cornwall side thirsting for revenge after losing to the Red Rose in the decider 12 months ago.

Nelson, who is also the Fylde coach, said: “Getting to the finals at Twickenham is always the icing on the cake.

“But playing for Lancashire once or 30 times, is always seen as an honour.

“As the players run out on to the hallowed turf at head they know that the right to be there has been forged on fields in Otley, Hartlepool, New Brighton, Percy Park, Scarborough, Vale of Lune, Fylde, Preston Grasshoppers and Sedgley Park.

“They pull on the county shirt after a long gruelling season and are rewarded for all those months in the trenches of league rugby with a refreshing competition culminating with the last game of the season at Twickenham.”

Nelson is expecting nothing less than a hard struggle against Cornwall.

The two opposing coaches have a remarkable record in the County Championship.

Nelson is taking his tenth side to a county final, while his Cornish counterpart Dawe has more than paid his dues.

Dawe was a member of the Cornwall team which won the trophy in 199

He captained Devon in the final in 2000 before coaching the county to five consecutive finals between 2004-2008, winning three of them.

Tomorrow’s showdown with Nelson will be Dawe’s 18th Twickenham cup final as player or coach with Bath, Albion, Cornwall and Devon.

And that does not include the representative matches in which Dawe played at Twickenham.

Nelson said: “I have locked horns with Graham before when he was coaching Devon and no doubt he will have done his homework on us.”

Nelson is backed up by plenty of off-field expertise.

He said: “There have been many excellent players, coaches and team managers involved over this time.

“A couple span the epoch both as players and coaches – Martin Scott and Paul Arnold – have been involved right from the start with me, as has Dave Hodgson in various roles, and these people epitomise what representing the county is all about.”

Oli Brennand returns on the wing, with Fylde club-mate Warren Spragg, scorer of vital tries in the run-up to Twickenham named on the opposite flank.

While Fylde make up the bulk of the side bidding for the Bill Beaumont Cup,

Cornwall’s team is made up of players from National Two South sides Redruth and Launceston.

Lancashire Team:

Taylor (Preston Grasshoppers) Spragg, Briers (Fylde) Riley (Sedgley Park) Brennand, Johnson, De La Harpe, Lewis, Rylance (Fylde) Black, McGowan (Sedgley Park) Gore (Fylde) Rawlinngs (Longton) Stewart (Fylde) Lamprey (Sedgley Park) Replacements: Griffiths, Arnold, Burtonwood (Fylde) Fairbrother (Fleetwood) Baines (Preston Grasshoppers) Collins (Sedgley Park).