Fylde face a very difficult task in seeking their 7th victory of the season away from the Woodlands when they make the journey over the Pennines to take on National Two (North) 5th placed Sheffield Tigers. Their visit to the Tigers’ Dore Moor Ground (ko 14.00) will be only the second time they’ve ever played on this always beautiful, usually cold and sometimes heavy pitch [photo above Tigers v Fylde in January 2019].
In the first ever game between the clubs in September 2018 at the Woodlands, the Tigers stole a last minute 24-25 victory principally through six penalty kicks by fly-half Mark Ireland despite outscoring the Yorkshiremen by four tries to one. Fylde fared no better when they visited Dore Moor in freezing conditions in mid-January and they lost another tight contest 17-12. So they have some outstanding business to earn their first victory over the Tigers.
For many years, Sheffield Tigers were in the shadow of Sheffield RUFC who play at Abbeydale Park in the south west of the City. A few miles away, again in the south west of Sheffield but on the very edge of the City, lies the Tigers’ Dore Moor base. The Tigers now have the bragging rights as Sheffield’s top RU club, with Sheffield RUFC now competing in the Midlands Premier league (level 5)
The Tigers have yo-yo’d between National Two and the North Premier division. In the last 12 seasons, they have had five campaigns at level 4 and seven at level 5. They have finished in 13th, 10th and 13th place in National Two (North) in the last three seasons. Like Fylde, the Tigers run four senior teams and have a healthy Mini-Junior Section.
The Tigers have had a good start to this season, notching up 8 victories and 6 defeats. They began well with a home win over Chester (25-19) and an away win at Scunthorpe (27-31). Three defeats followed: 7-37 at home to Caldy and 37-49 to Loughborough and 10-9 at Preston Grasshoppers. They then turned their campaign around with an excellent spell of six wins in seven games – at Wharfedale (18-34), Huddersfield (17-32) and stourbridge (17-20), and at home to Luctonians (27-18), Hull (12-9) and Otley (21-6). Their last two games have brought defeats at home to Sedgley Park (19-29) and at Hinckley (53-23), their only heavy defeat during the campaign. They have only picked up four ‘four try’ and three ‘losing’ bonus points.
The Tigers’ Head Coach is also one of their star players. Jamie Broadley is a highly experienced, hard running and try scoring centre, formerly with Rotherham Titans and Harrogate. His productivity in the last two seasons for the Tigers has been outstanding, with 50 tries in 56 matches. He leads a three quarter line of strong running and creative talent, including the equally experienced fullback or wing Pete Swatkins, former Fylde M-J, Colt & 1st teamer centre Tom Hart, and wingers Greg Mellor and Henri Packard.
The playmaker is the aforementioned fly-half Mark Ireland, (formerly at Otley & Kendal) who is the principal goal kicker and has been the team’s top scorer in his three seasons with the Tigers. His regular half-back partner is scrum-half Ryan Holmes.
The Tigers also have a strong pack, including prop Will Bennett, former Surrey County hooker Sam Johnson (ex-Rosslyn Park & Dorking), back five the Symcox brothers and Liam Wallace and powerful no 8 Frank Wragg.
Leading try scorers are Jamie Broadley (8), Peter Swatkins (7) and Henri Packard (5). Mark Ireland has scored 150 points and is in 2nd place in N2N chasing Fylde’s Greg Smith (161 points).
Fylde make one change in their starting XV as former skipper Chris Briers returns following surgery in the summer. Lex Botha and Tom Forster join the replacements.
15 Connor Wilkinson; 14 Tom Carleton, 13 Chris Briers, 12 Scott Rawlings, 11 Tom Grimes; 10 Greg Smith, 9 Adam Lanigan; 1 Elliot Horner, 2 Ben Gregory, 3 Adam Lewis, 4 Nick Ashcroft, 5 Olli Parkinson, 6 Ben Vernon, 7 Ben O’Ryan, 8 Jacob Conner.
16 Alex Loney, 17 Matt Ashcroft, 18 Jonny Wild, 19 Lex Botha, 20 Tom Forster.