Fylde have chosen the toughest way to prepare for their National Two (North) 2018-19 season by inviting one of National One’s promotion favourites, Ampthill & District, to the Woodlands on Saturday (ko 16.00). In the three seasons that the ‘As’ have competed in N1, they have finished in 4th, 3rd and 4th. There’s little doubt that once again in this coming campaign the visitors will be knocking on the door of the Championship by the end of April. Their ambition is fuelled by significant blue chip corporate sponsorship, if not by large crowds at their picturesque, rural Dillingham Park ground
Fylde have come off worse in the six previous National One games between the two clubs, losing five (including 12-35 at Ampthill
& 5-26 at the Woodlands last season) and winning just one game.
Spectators at the Woodlands will have a great opportunity to see how Fylde’s young squad match up to such quality opposition. The Fylde squad will come up against some very experienced players and an awesome pack, including most likely Ampthill’s Tongan international contingent with the legendary hooker/prop Aleki Lutui, lock Paino Hehea and the evergreen no 8 Maama Molitika. The squad has been strengthened even further during the close season with the arrival of countryman Soane Tong’uiha, the immense prop forward who famously had seven seasons in the Premiership with Northampton Saints before moving on to Racing in France and then Bristol.
But Ampthill is far more than just a pack of big forwards. Their backlne includes try wing machine Sam Baker and it has been strengthened by the arrival of winger Spencer Sutherland (from Esher), scrum-half George De Cohti (Loughborough Students & Worcester Warriors) and New Zealander Bailey Thomas.
Coaching this heady mixture is former Welsh international fly-half Paul Turner, previously a coach at Sale, Gloucester, Saracens, Rugby Lions, Harlequins, Wasps and Newport Gwent Dragons.
Ampthill have already had a very positive pre-season with a comprehensive 7-40 victory at Henley Hawks, followed by a very tough 20-15 win against a gritty Ebbw Vale Welsh Premiership outfit
The Fylde squad is below. All the starting XV played some part in the 7-48 victory at Kirkby Lonsdale last Saturday except Tom Grimes who has flown in from a successful season playing in New Zealand.
15 Tom Carleton; 14 Lex Botha, 13 Chris Briers, 12 Connor Wilkinson, 11 Tom Grimes; 10 Greg Smith, 9 Cameron Crampton; 1 Elliot Horner, 2 Alex Loney, 3 Adam Lewis (c), 4 Matt Garrod, 5 Nick Ashcroft, 6 Ben O’Ryan, 7 Ben Vernon, 8 David Fairbrother.
16 Adam Joyner, 17 Ben Gregory, 18 Matthew Ashcroft, 19 Olli Parkinson, 20 Tom Burtonwood, 21 Sam Dugdale, 22 James Torkington, 23 Tom Forster, 24 Lewis Pattison, 25 Jake Foster.
Some of the above players will play in the Hawks squad v Ampthill 2nds.
Whilst the main course is the clash between the two 1st XVs, this will be preceded by the 2nd strings facing off, the Hawks v Ampthill’s ‘1881’ squad. This game kicks off at 14.00 with the 1st XV game at 16.00
The Hawks squad is:
15 Henry Pearson; 14 Josh Moreau, 13 Sam Fisher, 12 Lewis Pattison, 11 Tom Hodgkins; 10 Tom Forster, 9 Adam Lanigan; 1 Adam Joyner, 2 Tom Burtonwood, 3 Matthew Ashcroft, 4 Karl Capstick, 5 Oliver Parkinson, 6 Craig Whalley-Hunter, 7 Luke Clitheroe, 8 James Torkington.
16 Harry Atkinson, 17 Andy Stevens, 18 Jonnny Wild, 19 Jamie Griffin, 20 Seb Smith, 21 Tom Steer, 22 Mark Capstick, 23 Will Atkinson, 24 Kyle Macaulay.
What entertainment is in prospect! Even better, entry will be free of charge as the Club seeks to attract as many as possible of the local community to the Woodlands and to high quality rugby on the Fylde Coast.
Please come along and give noisy support to the lads!