Fylde travel 135 miles to Corbridge to meet Tynedale on Saturday (ko 15.00) in a National Two (North) game. Tynedale Park hasn’t been a very productive hunting ground for the Lancastrians in the twelve seasons that the clubs have met. In eight matches in Northumberland since 2003, Fylde have won just twice. Fylde, despite their last minute defeat against Sheffield Tigers last Saturday, are on the heels of the leading clubs and sit in 5th place.
Tynedale have had a tough start to the campaign with fixtures against some of the division’s fancied clubs. Last Saturday they pulled out of their game at Chester due to concerns over a player with MRSA and infections being suffered by other members of their squad. In their four games to date, they have lost three and drawn one. Defeats at leaders Hinckley (45-31) and at home to similarly fancied Hull Ionians (15-50) were followed by a narrow (29-24) loss at Stourbridge and an exciting high scoring (33-all) draw at home to South Leicester.
The first ever fixture between the clubs was in National Two (North) in 2003/4 and there have been sixteen games since then, initially in that division then, following promotion for both, in National One. The scorecard to date is six wins to Fylde, one draw and nine defeats.
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 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 last season.
Tynedale are a fine, proud club and, with a productive youth pipeline, will be trying to build on their success last season in N2N when they finished in 3rd place. 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. In this world of climate change, ironically the river pretty much dried up there this summer!
Other change for ‘Dale came with the departure of established Director of Rugby, Scott Lawson, and the appointment of his successor this season, another well known former Newcastle Falcons star, Ben Woods. Like Fylde, they have a close relationship with their local Premiership club, the Falcons, and some young players have joined their squad this season on a dual registration (DR) basis.
Leading try scorers to date are Morgan Passman and Joe Mills with four, with goal kicker Robert Parker with 16 points
One player returning to his old ground at Tynedale Park is Fylde winger Henry Hadfield. Henry had two seasons with Tynedale, 2015-16 & 2016-17, before moving to the Woodlands for the start of last season. In May 2017 he was included in The Rugby Paper’s National Two (North) dream team selected from all the clubs in the division.
Fylde will continue to miss injured skipper Adam Lewis with knee ligament damage which will keep him out of action for a number of weeks. Whilst the backline remains unchanged, there are three starting changes in the pack, with young Sale Sharks Academy prop Cal Ford making his debut at tighthead, and Adam Joyner and Nick Ashcroft returning. On the bench are Sale Sharks Academy backrower Sam Dugdale and hooker Ewan Ashman.
15 Tom Carleton; 14 Henry Hadfield, 13 Chris Briers ©, 12 Connor Wilkinson, 11 Tom Grimes; 10 Greg Smith, 9 Adam Lanigan; 1 Adam Joyner, 2 Ben Gregory, 3 Cal Ford, 4 Nick Ashcroft, 5 Olli Parkinson, 6 Harlan Corrie, 7 Ben Vernon, 8 David Fairbrother.
16 Elliot Horner, 17 Ewan Ashman, 18 Matt Garrod, 19 Sam Dugdale, 20 Luke Fowden.