Fylde meet Hull Ionians in league action: latest team news
Fylde make the same 250 mile round trip as last Saturday when they go east on the M62 once more to take on Hull Ionians, this time for a National Three (North) game (ko 14.00). Fylde have treated the EDF Trophy as an opportunity to give young fringe 1st team players the chance to show what they can do against good opposition. And it has been a very useful exercise as far as the players and the coaches have been concerned.
Director of Rugby Mark Nelson said: "We've always made clear that our priority this season was the league competition. We've had a horrendous number of injuries in the past month so we had no doubts about giving our up and coming young players the chance to step up to the plate last Saturday. And very well they did too. We fielded a small pack and inevitably gave ground to a set of big first choice Ionian forwards. We plan to beef up the side this Saturday when we hope to see the return of back five players such as skipper Roger Banks, Oliver Atkinson & Sam Beaumont."
Amongst the backs too there are significant changes with the return of England Counties players, winger Oliver Brennand and scrum-half Craig Aikman, Lancashire fly-half Steve Nutt, centre Tom Albinson and fullback Mike Waywell.
15 Mike Waywell; 14 Jordan Davies, 13 Tom Albinson, 12 David Wiseman, 11 Oliver Brennand; 10 Steve Nutt, 9 Craig Aikman; 1 Sam Simpson, 2 Alan Holmes, 3 Andrew Irving, 4 Oliver Atkinson or Grant Ferguson, 5 Roger Banks (c), 6 Dan Bowman, 7 Mark Stephenson, 8 Sam Beaumont.
Replacements: 16 Matt Filipo, 17 Chris Tyms, 18 Dan Palmer, 19 David Wilks, 20 Neil Hunter or Martin Wallwork.
Hull Ionians will take great heart from their 34-7 win on Saturday and will believe that they can repeat the medicine against a much changed Fylde side. Rather like Fylde, they are certainly much stronger on their home ground, the well appointed Brantingham Park, than on the road. All three of their league wins to date have been at home whilst they've lost all of their away matches bar a draw at Loughborough Students. But they are a gritty side and have lost three games very narrowly - Leicester Lions (16-19), Huddersfield (29-31) and Caldy (19-20).
Ionians don't score too many tries - 21 in the league in ten games compared with Fylde's 47 - but their defence is tighter than the Lancastrians. They have conceded 198 points compared with Fylde's 217.
The leading figure who has guided Ionians through this development period as head coach is the accomplished former Harlequins, London Scottish & Wakefield lock Mick Watson. He still makes the occasional 1st team appearance in the engine room of the scrummage but is generally happy to give way to his younger charges.
Watson has built a pack in his own image with with an established front row including highly experienced hooker Carl Mortimer and a pair of able young props, Ade Longbone and Arthur Thundercliffe. These are complemented by skipper and flanker Richard Wigham, who is expected to return for this game following injury, his younger brother Mark, highly experienced locks Richard Hill (ex-Halifax) and James Rule (formerly Newcastle Falcons) and backrower Danny Hague.
Watson strengthened his backline during the summer by attracting centres Peter Murphy (ex-Morley) and Luke Thundercliffe (Bridlington), scrum-half Adam Thomas (Bridlington) and by the return of former winger Nick Cooper from Australia. One of the stars of last Saturday's cup game was highly promising fly-half James Ferguson who notched a personal tally of 19 points. He forms an exciting half-back combination with scrum-half James Green.Watson has most of last week's squad available, except for Tim Nixon who is working, with the addition of captain Richard Wigham and lock Lee Brown both recovered from injury. Last week centre Rob Whittam, a Fylde product now at Hull University, made his Ionians debut off the bench and is keen to be involved again against his old club.
1st XV v Fylde (home) (kick-off 2pm) squad from: James Greene, Rob Whittam, Lee Birch, Joe Donkin, Ryan Girking, Peter Murphy, James Ferguson, Adam Thomas, Adi Longbone, Scott Wilson, Chris Starling, Carl Mortimer, Tom Rice, Andy Gravil, Richard Hill, Lee Brown, James Rule, Richard Wigham, Mark Wigham, Chris Cusack, Danny Hague, Rich Mackay.