Fylde travel to their least popular venue on Saturday, Tynedale Park in Corbridge, when they will meet 10th placed Tynedale. ‘Least popular’, that is, in the sense of results over 16 years, not the splendour of the Northumberland club situated alongside the beautiful River Tyne.
Since fixtures between the two clubs began in 2003, Fylde have found it very difficult to win at Tynedale Park. In ten fixtures there, the Lancastrians have won just two, the last in 2011-12. 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 20 games.
The most recent memories aren’t too positive either. Last season Fylde put in their poorest performance of their campaign and were swept aside by a nine tries 59-15 display in the North East. So Fylde will have to work very hard to retain their unbeaten record so far this season and maintain or improve their 2nd place in National Two (North).
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 struggling 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. They have had a somewhat faltering start to this season, with four very close games, losing two (33-36 home to Luctonians & 29-36 at Hull), drawing one (34-all at home to Otley) and a fine 12-7 victory at one of the leading promotion contenders, Sedgley Park, last Saturday.
Tynedale are a fine, proud club and, with a productive youth pipeline, will be trying to build on their success last season in N2N. They have had real difficulties in their beautiful location on the banks of the River Tyne with at least two instances of serious flooding which did damage not only to the pitches but also to the Clubhouse. However, their resilience has been superb and they’ve bounced back each time.
Other changes 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 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 season include the influential and experienced English Counties and former Blaydon lock Chris Wearmouth, props Liam Carmichael (Morpeth), front row Anthony Harvey (Blaydon), backrower Ethan Clark (Falcons A and Percy Park) and prop Larry Mew (Ponteland).
More established players include skipper and scrum-half Matty Outson, wing Guy Pike, goalkicking no 10 Jake Rodgers, hooker Dave Batey, lock Harry Snowden and backrowers Ben Bell and Joe Mills.
Fylde make two changes in their starting line-up, with Ralph Dowds making his first start of the season in the centre and Jacob Conner returning to the back row. The backs are reorganised, with Connor Wilkinson dropping back to full-back and Tom Carleton switching to the wing. Jonny Wild is named amongst the replacements.
15 Connor Wilkinson, 14 Tom Carleton, 13 Ralph Dowds, 12 Scott Rawlings, 11 Tom Grimes, 10 Greg Smith, 9 Adam Lanigan; 1 Elliot Horner, 2 Ben Gregory, 3 Adam Lewis (c), 4 Olli Parkinson, 5 Matt Garrod, 6 Jacob Conner, 7 Ben Vernon, 8 David Fairbrother.
16 Matt Ashcroft, 17 Jonny Wild, 18 Hal Chapman, 19 Tom Forster, 20 Lex Botha.