FYLDE RFC will not be compromising their expansive attacking style in their bid for a much-needed win in Saturday’s derby at home to Sedgley Park.
That’s the pledge from head coach Mark Nelson, who insists any temptation to play ‘safety first’ will be resisted after three successive defeats in National One.
But under no circumstances suggest to Nelson that the 3pm kick-off is a ‘must-win’ for his 13th-placed side.
Nelson told The Gazette: “We won’t put too much pressure on the players by describing the match as a must-win, because that’s usually detrimental to performance, but we hope we get the rub of the green, which has been eluding us.
“I have no doubt the players will be up for this game, as they have every match this season.
“We know we have to apply ourselves and we know we play a high-intensity style, which can lead to errors, but we won’t compromise our style and play safety first.
“We will keep plugging away and playing the rugby we believe in, but injuries, unavailability and the Gareth Rawlings situation have not helped.”
Rawlings remains suspended until the new year, and, in his absence, Fylde’s first-choice second row pairing of Paul Arnold and Roger Banks were both forced off injured during Saturday’s defeat at Blaydon. Both are expected to be available for Saturday, though Jonny Roddam, who also made an early exit in the North East with a dead arm, is altogether more doubtful.
There are so many question marks in the pack that Nelson is able to name only a squad at this stage, though he is delighted to welcome back Sam Beaumont at no.8, after the former skipper missed his first match in two seasons because of a family wedding last weekend.
Nelson added: “Sam is a natural leader and was captain last year.
“His brother (Josh) did a really good job for us, but is playing for Durham University on Friday night and so will not be available, but a big plus is the fact that some of the young players have stepped up and shown a lot of ability and application.”
Indeed, Nelson is keen to stress the positives from a heavy defeat at Crow Trees, a real bogey ground for Fylde, to boost his players’ morale.
He said: “You don’t want to lose both second rows against such an attritional team as Blaydon, but they are the breaks.
“The defence in the first half was outstanding, as was the commitment throughout, but the little things did not go our way. But that’s sport and we just have to deal with it and not get bitter and twisted.”
Fylde did the double over Sedgley last season and the derby won’t be short of added spice, with Fylde’s Arnold, Chris Briers, Alistair Livesey, Roddam and Dan Birchall having played for the visitors.
Sedgley’s top points-scorer Steve Collins spent the past two seasons with Fylde, as did Callum McShane.
Sedgley have had a mixed start, but arrive at the Woodlands buoyed by victory in London against Richmond.
Nelson said: “They will be very pleased with what they have achieved so far this season and they had a good win against Richmond.
“It’s the big local derby in our league, and they will be keen to impose themselves on the match, but we have to put ourselves in the box seat. We have massive respect for them and know how committed they will be.”
Fylde chairman Andy Hiles said: “We’re hoping for a good crowd to watch what is the nearest thing we get to a local derby in National One.
“That is another encouragement for supporters from both clubs to come to the Woodlands on Saturday and enjoy another exciting, competitive match.”
Fylde squad: Spragg, Royle, C Briers or S Briers, S Briers or Barrow, Brennand, Johnson, Wallwork; forwards from: Birchall, Roddam, Lavelle, Burtonwood, Altham, Arnold, Banks, S Beaumont, Stewart, Vernon, McGinnis; Replacements: De La Harpe, Kenyon plus two forwards.