Fylde RFC coach sizes up Stourbridge test tomorrow

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Fylde head coach Warren Spragg is gearing himself up for a massive challenge in every sense tomorrow.

His side returns to action after a two-week break to welcome a Stourbridge side Spragg described as “the biggest in the league” to the Woodlands.

The Midlands club remains in the lower half of National Two North but have been beaten only once in five matches, a run which has included victory over leaders Hull Ionians and a draw with second-placed Chester last time out.

Spragg told The Gazette: “Stourbridge are very heavy up front, with big ball-carriers and big units. If we are not on our game they will run right over us.

“We know from our away fixture (which Fylde won 36-18 in November) that this match will be a real physical test but they are also capable of moving the ball well, so we must be ready for everything they throw at us if we are going to come out on top”

Fylde will be without captain Adam Lewis, who was concussed in the last match at Hull, but will be boosted for the physical fight by the return of fellow packmen Oli Parkinson and Jacob Conner after injury with both expected to start on the bench.

Like Fylde, Stourbridge are without a game in a fortnight. The Woodlands club used the break productively for an in-depth squad discussion in which they discussed goals for the remaining seven games of the season.

Spragg said of the meeting: “The lads were really positive and ambitious. We have set our stall out and have set really high standards with training.

“The intensity has been really good and hopefully we will be firing because we need to be really good at Stourbridge.”

Two of the three teams above Fylde lost last weekend, though leaders Hull Ionians stretched their advantage over the Woodlands club to seven points with a 59-10 thrashing of South Leicester.

It could be another week of twists and turns in the fight for top spot, with Hull visiting Huddersfield tomorrow, but as for Fylde’s own hopes, Spragg believes the situation is clear: “It’s not that difficult to work out that we are going to have to win every week.

“Last week was pretty kind to us. Huddersfield’s loss to Wharfedale was a surprise and I didn’t expect Chester to be put away so heavily by Hinckley. From our point of view it couldn’t have gone much better.”

Stourbridge’s formidable pack power has been further boosted by the return of Chris Roddy from Preston Grasshoppers.