Leaving leaders Caldy out of the picture, virtually all of the National Two (North) clubs have proved inconsistent so far this season. Fylde, who have been rather uneven themselves in recent weeks, welcome one of the most unpredictable, Tynedale, to the Woodlands on Saturday (ko 3pm).
The equivalent game last season was also in the depths of January (2019) and was a mud fest (see Tom Carleton above). Following the heavy rain earlier this week we sincerely hope that the pitch has a chance to dry out and provide a surface for two attacking teams to exploit. This fixture has so often been a high scoring affair and everyone hopes that the weather conditions facilitate another exciting and positive exhibition of rugby.
Fylde cling on to their 2nd place in N2N despite a disappointing performance at Huddersfield last Saturday. Their North Eastern visitors are in relative mid-table comfort, in 9th, following 7 wins, 2 draws and 9 defeats so far in this campaign.
They began the season rather falteringly with one win and a draw in their first five matches. They then went on a fine run with five victories and a draw in their next seven fixtures. More recently, they hit a bad patch with five successive losses before, quite out of the blue, beating 3rd placed Sedgley Park last Saturday. In fact, ‘Dale completed a double victory over Park after an earlier 7-14 win at Priory Park in late September. So they have plenty of quality in their squad.
Since fixtures between the Fylde and Tynedale began in 2003, the honours have been reasonably even. Fylde have found it very difficult to win at Tynedale Park. In eleven fixtures there, the Lancastrians have won just three, notably earlier this season with a close 27-34 score at Tynedale Park. Fylde have been more successful at the Woodlands, earning six wins, a draw and three defeats. Overall, Tynedale hold the bragging rights with 11 victories and a draw in the 21 games. Rather like the last two home matches against Sedgley Park and Wharfedale, despite home advantage Fylde are likely to be fully stretched to earn their 14th win of the season.
Tynedale earned promotion to National One in 2008/9, three seasons ahead of Fylde’s promotion year and, like Fylde, initially did extremely well, finishing in 4th, 5th and 5th again. Then, four seasons of struggle in the lower half of the table saw them eventually relegated at the end of 2014-15. This has been the fate of a number of Northern clubs including Hull Ionians, Macclesfield, Blaydon, Wharfedale and, of course, Fylde in 2017-18. In the four seasons back in N2N, Tynedale have finished in 10th, 6th, 3rd and, last season, in 5th place.
A major change for Tynedale came with the departure in 2018 of established Director of Rugby, Scott Lawson, and the appointment of his successor last season, another well known former Newcastle Falcons star, Ben Woods. Like Fylde, they have a close relationship with their local Premiership club, in this case the Falcons, and some young players have joined their squad this season on a dual registration (DR) basis.
These include Falcons Academy stars prop Oscar Caudle and back Charlie Richards, who featured in the last campaign and remain in the squad, and they have been joined by standout England U’18s squad & Falcons duo, scrum-half (or wing) Callum Pascoe and fly-half Will Haydon-Wood (ex-Sedbergh School).
Other recruits in recent seasons include the influential and experienced English Counties and former Blaydon lock Chris Wearmouth, props Liam Carmichael (Morpeth), front row Anthony Harvey (Blaydon) and backrower Ethan Clark (Falcons A and Percy Park).
More established players include skipper and scrum-half Matty Outson, free scoring and dangerous wing Guy Pike, goalkicking no 10 Jake Rodgers, hooker Dave Batey, experienced lock Graeme Dunn and backrowers Jonathan Cousin, Ben Bell and Joe Mills.
Their leading scorer is Jake Rodgers with 108 points.
Their squad is:
15 Rob Parker, 14 Jonny Burdon, 13 Liam Checksfield, 12 Tom Bramwell, 11 Guy Pike; 10 Jake Rodgers, 9 Matty Outson (c); 1 Mike Hughes, 2 David Batey, 3 Oscar Caudle, 4 Graeme Dunn, 5 Charlie Richards, 6 Jonny Cousin, 7 Ben Bell, 8 Ethan Clarke.
16 Ben Haigh, 17 Dan Lowdon, 18 Finlay Magowan, 19 John Clarkson, 20 Will Haydon-Wood.
Fylde make four changes to their starting line-up. Chris Briers returns at centre, Matt Garrod at lock, Phill Mills (on loan from Rossendale) at openside flanker and Matt Ashcroft at tighthead prop.
Warren Spragg has named a very strong bench.
15 Connor Wilkinson, 14 Tom Carleton, 13 Chris Briers, 12 Scott Rawlings, 11 Tom Grimes; 10 Greg Smith, 9 Adam Lanigan; 1 Adam Lewis (c), 2 Ben Gregory, 3 Matt Ashcroft, 4 Nick Ashcroft, 5 Matt Garrod, 6 Hal Chapman, 7 Phill Mills, 8 David Fairbrother.
16 Drew Stephenson, 17 Elliot Horner, 18 Jacob Conner, 19 Ben Vernon, 20 Lex Botha.