It wasn’t exactly a case of peace and goodwill to all, but the Christmas derby against Preston Grasshoppers was played in a spirit which delighted winning Fylde coach Warren Spragg.
Spragg’s side avenged September’s 18-15 defeat at Hoppers with a convincing 33-17 success last Saturday, when the first Woodlands league derby between these great rivals for more than eight years was played out in front of almost 1,800 supporters.
Fylde’s combined some clinical attack with uncompromising defence, crossing for five tries and keeping their visitors scoreless for almost an hour, en route to a victory which saw Fylde end the year third in the National Two North table.
It was a perfect way to head into the Christmas break for Spragg, who said: “I was really proud of the lads.
“I thought we controlled the game for 55 minutes or so, then they got back into it and it was really nervy for a while.
“Hoppers had some success in earning turnovers, putting us under pressure and it was obviously tense.
“But fair play to the lads – they dug in and managed to get the ball back, pinned Hoppers back in their own 22 and finished off with a hard-worked try.
“I’m over the moon and delighted to have earned five league points.”
As well as the performance on the field, Spragg was greatly encouraged by the events off it in the build-up as the pre-match banter didn’t tip over into anything unsavoury.
He added: “There’s been a lot of hype around this game, including on social media, and the young lads do pay a lot of attention to this.
“It was important that we just played the game rather than the occasion
“The pre-match banter has been very good-natured. We’ve all learned from our previous experiences.
“Before the game in September I thought that some of the stuff coming from Hoppers was a bit over the top.
“Being so close geographically, people bump into each other regularly.
“I think we’ve smoothed a lot of that out and got over the initial hype of being in the same league.”
And Spragg has a New Year wish for Fylde’s closest rivals in the spirit of seasonal harmony.
He added: “Both teams came into last Saturday’s game on a good run of form – these are two decent teams.
“Now we are where we are, with Hoppers winning one, us winning this one .
“Let’s crack on with our season and support each other into becoming the two top Lancashire clubs.”
Fylde could boast of having taken six points to Preston’s four from the two fixtures.
Hoppers remain in the top half of the table despite this defeat halting their three-match winning run.