Title rivals have big advantage, says coach

Mark Nelson
Mark Nelson
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FYLDE RUFC bid to strengthen their challenge for the National League One title at home to Blackheath tomorrow – but coach Mark Nelson reckons other teams are favourites for the championship ahead of the Woodlands club.

Leaders Ealing Trailfinders faltered with a defeat against Macclesfield in their latest match, second-placed Fylde reducing the gap to six points thanks to a bonus-point win at Birmingham-Solihull.

However, Nelson reckons that Ealing are one of two clubs in pole position.

He said: “Because of the resources they have, the favourites for promotion are Ealing and Jersey, who had 2,500 spectators for their last home match.

“If Fylde could get a crowd like Jersey’s, then we would generate £25,000 per home match. If you multiply that by 15, then that is a lot of money in a season, not to mention the backing Jersey get from their benefactor.”

However, Nelson is delighted at the start Fylde have made to the season.

“We just take each match as it comes and look no further than that,” he said.

Fylde have shown outstanding attacking flair this season and another attractive fixture is on the cards tomorrow when Blackheath – known as ‘Club’ because they were the first rugby club – are the visitors.

The teams have not met for several seasons but matches between them go back a long way.

Nelson said: “It is good to be playing a team like Blackheath again, instead of just the northern opposition we have been used to up until this season.

“We got a positive response from the players against Birmingham-Solihull last Saturday after the defeat against Rosslyn Park.

“Blackheath have some good players and they proved that by going to Blaydon and getting a win.

“It will be a tough match against Blackheath but they are all like that in this division.

“We played one of the bottom sides last Saturday and our hooker Jonny Roddam reckoned it was the hardest game physically all season.”

Prop Simon Griffiths gets a place in the starting line-up, with Alastair Livesey moving down to the bench.

There was some doubt whether Pete Altham, another front rower, could take his place on the bench as his partner was due to give birth.

Flanker Mark Stephenson is not fit enough to be considered.

Fylde: Cartmel; Russell, C Briers, Waywell, Brennand; Kenyon, Wallwork; Griffiths, Roddam, Loney, Arnold, Rawlings, Ferguson, Stewart, Beaumont; replacements: Lavelle, Livesey, Altham/Wells, Collins, Depledge. Kick-off 3pm.