Still squeaky scrum-time for Fylde

Jake Pope's Fylde stint has helped his England ambitions
Jake Pope's Fylde stint has helped his England ambitions
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Fylde RFC may have pulled themselves 15 points clear of the National League One relegation zone, but player-coach Paul Arnold insists: “This is no time to rest on our laurels.”

They have boosted their survival hopes no end with back-to-back bonus-point wins against Coventry and Hull Ionians.

Tomorrow they entertain Blaydon, who are very much in danger, just two points off the drop zone.

And Arnold expects Blaydon to be a tough test.

He said: “We are still involved in a dogfight and Blaydon are a good side.

“They have had excellent wins against Blackheath and Esher, so they are on a bit of a roll and usually come good at this time of the year.

“Blaydon have a big pack and will try and take us on up front, so we have to be aware of that.”

Meantime, Arnold has commended his players for the way in which they have stood up to be counted with the last two matches, the latest being at Hull Ionians on Saturday; the first win on their travels in over a year.

The Fylde player-coach said: “I am very proud of the boys.

“Their backs have been against the wall, but they have carried the fight together and come up with some big performances.”

Fylde make two changes from the side that prevailed on Humberside.

Matt Lamprey comes in at number eight for Dave Fairbrother, who has been suspended for four matches after being cited for a high tackle by Plymouth Albion in match last month.

Greg Nicholls replaces Connor Dever at scrum-half.

Arnold said: “Fairbrother will be a big miss because he has been massive for us, but we have someone like Lamprey to come in.

“He is very experienced and is a very good ball-carrier.”

On the change at scrum-half, Arnold remarked: “Connor has done really well for us when he has come in, but in what could be a forward-orientated game we have gone for Greg, who can use his experience to direct behind the scrum.”

England Under-20 prop forward Jake Pope is named on the replacements bench.

He came on as a replacement for England in their 59-17 win over the French, but missed the subsequent 37-21 victory over Wales because of an ankle injury.

Pope plays for Premiership club Sale Sharks, but is signed on a dual registration with Fylde.

Arnold believes that Pope’s spell at the Woodlands has helped with his England ambitions.

He said: “Jake is looking a lot fitter now and the experience of playing with us has done him the world of good.

“For a young lad of 19, it is vital experience playing against decent packs every week.

“That has given him a helping hand in playing for England Under-20s.”

One of the players missing from the Fylde squad is another front row forward, Simon Griffiths.

He is waiting for the all-clear to return to action after being sidelined after suffering his third bout of concussion so far this season.

Leyton Taylor, recently recruited to the front row ranks by Fylde, is likely to figure for the Hawks in their second XV fixture against their counterparts from Sale FC tomorrow.

Fylde: Briers; Armstrong, Wilkinson, Bedlow, Dorrington; Smith, Nicholls; Lewis, Burtonwood, Wild, Gray, Turley, Lamprey, Stewart, Rogerson. Replacements: Pope, Loney, Vernon, Bingham, Spragg.