Fylde face a tough test when they make only their second ever visit to Hinckley’s Leicester Road Ground.
Hinckley, in their second season in National Two (North), have had a mixed start in these early weeks. They are in 13th place in the division after two wins and four defeats. However, they have a strong squad and are likely to soon climb the table.
Hinckley is situated 15 miles north of Leicester and the town’s club has gradually worked itself into becoming a major force in Midlands rugby.
‘The Hornets’ began with a home defeat to league leaders Caldy (13-29) and then a surprising loss at Loughborough Students (41-7). They beat Luctonians at home (23-17) and a fine win at Hull (18-36). They have lost their last two fixtures, at home to Otley (14-17) and, in the last minute, at Sedgley Park (34-29).
The honours between Fylde & Hinckley were shared last season in two close matches. Hinckley won 16-5 at Leicester Road and
Fylde were victorious by 21-8 at the Woodlands.
Once again facing new opposition, we find a club with a longer history than Fylde, having been founded in 1893. Their distinguished alumni include the last dual cricket and rugby international, M J K Smith, and the England & British Lions legend, Dean Richards. After playing in the Midlands divisions for most of the last 25 years, they broke through to the National Leagues in 2010 but quickly dropped back to the Midlands Premier (level 5). A sustained improvement campaign eventually lifted them back to National Two (North) in 2016-17 and they have a taken an upward path, finishing in 9th in their first season and then 5th in 2017-18 and 10th last season.
Their new Director of Rugby is the former All Black, Crusaders and Leicester Tigers fullback/wing, Scott Hamilton. He joined Hinckley in the 2016-17 season after a spell coaching and playing for Coventry in National One following his departure from the Tigers. He is also a registered player and has already appeared in their line-up this season.
Their squad, like most clubs in the National Leagues, is a mixture of local talent who have developed at the Club and players who have joined more recently.
The Fylde squad sees one change in its starting line-up. Nick Ashcroft returns to the starting line-up in place of David Fairbrother. ‘Fairy’, last Saturday’s Man of the Match v Stourbridge, was ruled out of contention as he had work commitments. These have changed at the 11th hour so he joins the replacements bench.
Alex Loney and George Brookes join Fairbrother amongst the replacements.
1 Elliot Horner, 2 Ben Gregory, 3 Adam Lewis (c), 4 Nick Ashcroft, 5 Olli Parkinson, 6 Jacob Conner, 7 Ben Vernon, 8 Hallam Chapman; 9 Adam Lanigan, 10 Greg Smith; 11 Tom Grimes, 12 Scott Rawlings, 13 Connor Wilkinson, 14 Lex Botha; 15 Tom Carleton
16 Alex Loney, 17 Matt Ashcroft, 18 David Fairbrother, 19 Tom Forster, 20 George Brookes.