Fylde welcome South Leicester RUFC to the Woodlands on Saturday (ko 15.00) following a weekend off. ‘South’ are one of four clubs in National Two (North) who haven’t previously met Fylde in league competition. Of the other three clubs in this category, Sheffield Tigers and Peterborough have already visited the Woodlands in the first third of the season, and the Lancastrians travelled to Hinckley a few weeks ago.
But this will not be South Leicester’s first ever game at the Woodlands. In the 2002/3 season, they travelled here for a 2nd Round Powergen Cup tie. Then in Midlands 2 (East), three levels below Fylde who were in the equivalent of National One these days, they proved doughty competitors and the home side had to work very hard before coming out on top by 22-13. Fylde’s tries that day were scored by Dylan O’Grady, Richard Kenyon and Matt Filipo. David Wiseman converted two and kicked a penalty.
The teams that day were: FYLDE – Kenyon; Marsh, Kerr, Hassan, TrendB; Wiseman, Wallwork; Webster, McIntyre, Watt, Taylor, Johnson, Atkinson An, Lavin, O’Grady. Scott, McFarlane, Kay, Filipo, James, TrendJ
SOUTH LEICESTER – Richardson; Mason, Collins, Green, Voze; Ginvert, Sharp; Pinnock, Mark, Spence, Carlisle, Hayes, Harris, March, Addison. Chamberlain, Webber, Tebbutt, Lewis, Fincham, Green, Nicholson. South’s scorers: Ginvert try, Richardson try, Ginvert pen.
Coincidentally, both clubs were founded at exactly the same time, ahead of the 1919-20 season. Their histories have differed considerably up to today with, since the establishment of league rugby, South mainly competing in the Midlands regional leagues. From Midlands Two (East) around the Millennium, they were promoted to Midlands One (level 5 in the RFU league structure) in 2005-6. They gradually strengthened their position in that that division over nine seasons before becoming outstanding champions in 2014-15, winning 25 out of their 26 fixtures. They finished 24 points ahead of 2nd placed and near neighbours Hinckley who joined them in National Two (North) through a play-off.
Since reaching N2N (level 4), they have been consistently successful finishing 4th in the three subsequent seasons. With a third of the current season over, they have found this campaign rather harder and currently sit in 14th place in the division. They started strongly, with three victories (Macclesfield 47-24; Leicester Lions 21-24; Peterborough Lions 34-27), and a draw (33-33 at Tynedale). They have suffered five consecutive defeats since then – at Hinckley (42-17) and Stourbridge (57-45) and home to Hull Ionians (12-24), Wharfedale (19-22) and Chester (0-27).
South’s Director of Rugby is Geraint Davies and he has a fairly stable squad to call on. Like all clubs, South lost some first choice players from last season including a couple to Birmingham Solihull and another to Stourbridge. One important newcomer is goal kicker and playmaking fly-half Ben Palmer, a much travelled player formerly with Coventry, Leicester Lions, Old Albanian, Henley Hawks, Broadstreet, Bromsgrove and Nuneaton. He is South’s leading points scorer to date with 90 points, a few ahead of Fylde’s Greg Smith.
Other standout backs include powerful New Zealand-born, England U’18s centre Javiah Pohe, who has impressive Championship & Premiership experience with Nottingham and Leicester Tigers, centre Timo Koster (ex Loughborough Students & Leicester Lions), wingers Michael Ogunwole (ex-London Scottish & Nottingham University) and Myles Bean who was leading try scorer last season with 27.
South are noted for having a very powerful pack including stalwart prop Ron McNaughton (almost 90 appearances for the Club), lock Tom Cheney (four seasons with South, 6 with Leicester Lions & 2 with Rugby Lions), experienced flankers Wesley Cope (ex-Old Albanian) and Dan Ireland.
Other influential back five forwards include no 8 Will Ward, now in his 4th season at the Club, and Martin Wolfenden, ex-Cambridge, Broadstreet & Coventry.
Fylde make three changes from the starting XV that won at Stourbridge. Assuming that he has no after effects from training on Thursday evening, skipper and prop Adam Lewis makes a very welcome return from injury following a seven week absence. Also in the pack, flanker Sam Dugdale returns after game time in the Premiership Cup with Sale Sharks. In the backs Henry Hadfield returns on the right wing. Amongst the replacements, two other Sharks dual registered players are included – prop Bevan Rodd and scrum-half Gus Warr.
15 Tom Carleton; 14 Henry Hadfield, 13 Chris Briers, 12 Connor Wilkinson, 11 Tom Grimes; 10 Greg Smith, 9 Cameron Crampton; 1 Elliot Horner, 2 Ben Gregory, 3 Adam Lewis (c), 4 Olli Parkinson, 5 Nick Ashcroft, 6 Ben O’Ryan, 7 Sam Dugdale, 8 David Fairbrother.
16 Bevan Rodd, 17 Alex Loney, 18 Adam Joyner. 19 Matt Garrod, 20 Gus Warr.