Fylde will be looking for their first home victory of the season when Huddersfield RUFC visit the Woodlands on Saturday (ko 3pm). Two away wins, at Scunthorpe and Wharfedale, and a home draw against Preston Grasshoppers have taken them to 3rd in National Two (North). They are the highest points scoring club in the league and have scored most tries, 15, in their three matches.
Huddersfield, pressing at the top of the table for most of last season, have had a stuttering start to the new campaign. They opened with all Yorkshire draws at home to Hull (22-all) and away at Otley (15-all), and a home defeat to Sedgley Park (10-27). Huddersfield are a long established club, dating in their oldest manifestation back to 1878. Until 1946 the club was known as Huddersfield Old Boys and wore a distinctive claret and yellow hooped shirt. A timely co-incidence is that the embryonic Fylde club in 1919 asked the officials of the Old Boys if they could copy their colours – the reason for this is lost in the mists of time. But Fylde’s new 2019 Centenary shirt is a version of the 1919 one. So thank you Huddersfield Old Boys & Huddersfield RUFC!
Since the formation of the league system, certainly in the last 15 years, they have yo-yo’d between levels 5 and 4. Their first season in the National Leagues was in 2008/9 when they first met Fylde.
In 2012/3 ‘Field were relegated back to North Premier (level 5) but came storming back the following season as champions. Another season in N2N led to another immediate relegation but in 2016/17 once again they finished top of the division and were back in N2N last season when they performed well and finished 6th. So they have acclimatised to the requirements of level 4 and built on this last season when they were 4th.
Until Fylde were promoted to National One in 2011-12, the clubs played each other on six occasions, with Fylde shading the bragging rights with four wins and two defeats. Last season the clubs drew 20-all at the Woodlands and ‘Field won handsomely 45-33 at Lockwood Park.
Under Head Coach Gareth Lewis they have recruited ambitiously in the last couple of years and obviously have plans to strengthen their league fortunes even further.
Summer recruits and re-signings included full-back Lewis Workman and returning to the club are Yorkshire tight head prop Loz Sanderson, after spells at Sale and Otley, and back rower Harvey Keighley-Payne, who played last season at Old Rishworthians.
South African tight head Josh Crickmay was expected to arrive at Lockwood Park after spells around the Yorkshire leagues, while Lewis has moved to snap up former Yorkshire Carnegie academy fly half Cail Cookland, who has been with Northern Premier side Harrogate.
Lock Tor Borrowdale, brother of Guy, continues his dual registration from Yorkshire Carnegie while Lewis is delighted to have three players back from long-term injuries – hooker Ben Morrill, centre Tom Owen and wing Brandon Conway.
Lewis explained: “I am delighted that the vast majority of the squad will be with us once again, which allows us to get the continuity we want and to improve further as a club, with the core group of players.
A principal stalwart for ‘Field has been the excellent backrower Nick Spence who has made over 265 appearances for the Club. The 1st XV skipper is another backrower, the powerful Dicky Piper, ex-Cleckheaton and a Yorkshire County player. Veteran Yorkshire County prop Adam Blades (ex-Halifax and Otley) joined ‘Field in 2017 and is still doing his stuff at National Level.
A young newcomer who made serious waves last season in N2N at fullback or on the wing was Yorkshire Carnegie dual registrant Kian Stewart.
The principal goal kicker is centre/flyhalf Will Milner.
Huddersfield: 15 Tom Hodson; 14 Kian Stewart, 13 Dave Martin, 12 Tom Owen, 11 Elliot Knight; 10 Will Milner, 9 Jack Mapelsden; 1 Callum Thompson, 2 Ross Thornton, 3 Reuben Pollard, 4 Guy Borrowdale, 5 Nick Sharpe, 6 Harvey Keighley Paine, 7 Lewis Bradley, 8 Dickie Piper (c). Replacements: 16 Josh Crickmay, 17 Darren Neilly, 18 Tor Borrowdale, 19 Joel Hinchcliffe, 20 Cail Cookland.
Fylde make just one change in their starting line-up as Olli Parkinson returns at lock forward.
15 Tom Carleton; 14 Lex Botha, 13 Connor Wilkinson, 12 Scott Rawlings, 11 Tom Grimes; 10 Greg Smith, 9 Adam Lanigan; 1 Elliot Horner, 2 Ben Gregory, 3 Adam Lewis, 4 Olli Parkinson, 5 Matt Garrod, 6 Hal Chapman, 7 Ben Vernon, 8 David Fairbrother.
16 Matthew Ashcroft, 17 Alex Loney, 18 Jacob Conner, 19 Tom Forster, 20 Ralph Dowds.
Greg Smith and Tom Carleton head the early season rankings of top scorers in National Two (North). Connor Wilkinson and Tom Grimes also feature in the try scorers list.
Leading National Two (North) points scorers
Greg Smith (Fylde) 33
Steve Collins (Sedgley P) 32
Owen Waters (Loughborough S) 29
Mark Ireland (Sheffield T) 28
Simon Humberstone (Hull) 26
Jake Rodgers (Tynedale) 24
Gavin Roberts (Caldy) 24
Jake Squirrell (Preston G) 22
Paul Cook (Scunthorpe) 22
Leading try scorers
Tom Carleton (Fylde) 4
Joe Heatley (Stourbridge) 4
Tom Grimes (Fylde) 3
Alick Croft (Chester) 3
Dan Rundle (Stourbridge) 3
Connor Wilkinson (Fylde) 3
Henry Roberts (Otley) 3
Ben Bell (Tynedale) 3
Guy Pike (Tynedale) 3