Fylde in good cheer for Christmas run-in despite injury blow

Chris Briers
Chris Briers

The mood has been buoyant at Fylde RFC this week despite confirmation that former captain Chris Briers broke an arm against Bishop’s Stortford last weekend.

That last-gasp 29-22 victory gave Warren Spragg’s charges a precious confidence boost and the knowledge that backing up that win at home to Darlington Mowden Park tomorrow could see they climb off the bottom of National One.

DMP are second in the table but have failed to win any of their last four on the road and Spragg says his side’s spirits are soaring.

He told The Gazette: “The win over Bishop’s Stortford was one we have been working towards for the past month. We had a disappointing blip the previous weekend at Esher but before that we’d had four solid performances and gained some consistency.

“Bishop’s Stortford did have a few opportunities which could have changed the outcome but to come from behind and win with a last-minute try gives the group so much confidence.

“That’s important because we are facing a physical and fast DMP side, who play good rugby, and we will have to be right on our game.

“This was always a big month for us, with three home games out of four. We’d hoped to go into December in a better league position but there is an energy about the club now and everyone is excited.”

Fylde fly-half Greg Smith could return to face Darlington Mowden Park tomorrow despite being forced off with a wrist problem last weekend, though the other injury victim of the win over Bishop’s Stortford definitely won’t feature again in 2017.

As initially feared, centre Chris Briers broke a forearm when he came into contact with an opponent’s head in a tackle.

Head coach Warren Spragg told The Gazette: “Chris had an operation on Wednesday and had it pinned. He was in and out of hospital in a day but we won’t see him playing again until the New Year.

“It gives an opportunity to lads on the fringes to step up, like Luke Fowden, who came on against Bishop’s Stortford and scored the winning try.”

Smith may ultimately require surgery too but could play on, according to Spragg.

He explained: “Greg has an ongoing wrist injury which had troubled him a couple of weeks before.

“He got a bad bang to the injured area last weekend and we took him off as a precaution.

“He could have played on but Alex Dolly replaced him and did very well.

“Potentially Greg could play this weekend but it’s an injury we will have to monitor. Surgery could be the answer in the future.”

Briers joins an injury list that includes Mark Irving, George Brookes, Adam McCarthy, Adam Joyner and long-term absentees Alex Loney and Ralph Dowds, though Spragg is pleased with the younger players stepping up to the plate. And although this weekend’s team was only due to be finalised after training last night, Spragg revealed: “We have to reward the lads who came in and did well last week, so there will not be massive changes for the DMP game.”

Hooker Tom Burtonwood could return, however, having missed the Bishop’s Stortford game while away in Dubai.

Tomorrow’s opponents DMP have conceded 300 points, more than anyone else in National League One’s top five. Their leading scorer this season is Warren Seals with 70 points, while Grant Connon heads their try-scoring chart with eight.

Fylde team (possible): Carleton, Bailey, Wilkinson, Fowden, Grimes, Dolly, Nicholls; Pope, Gregory, Lewis, Garrod, Parkinson, Corrie, Hopwood, Fairbrother; replacements: Richardson, Burtonwood, Vernon, Smith, Hadfield