The Blackpool Gazette’s Andy Moore spoke to Head Coach Warren Spragg ahead of Saturday’s mega N2N contest. Reproduced courtesy of the Gazette.[Photo above, Warren Spragg at the end of the last game between the teams back in December 2017.]
Fylde RFC head coach Warren Spragg is relishing his side’s biggest test of the season tomorrow, when runaway leaders Caldy visit the Woodlands (3pm), and hopes this mouthwatering rugby occasion isn’t spoiled by the weather.
Fylde are in fine fettle themselves for this second v first contest following a 51-15 mauling of Chester last Saturday – their third half-century haul in four games.
However, Caldy and Newcastle are the only clubs in the top five tiers of English rugby with a 100 per cent record, though the Championship Falcons have played only 12 games to Caldy’s 21.
A feast of attacking rugby is anticipated between the league’s top-scoring sides, Caldy having registered 113 tries and Fylde 104 from one more game.
Whatever the weather brings, Spragg agrees these are the games that set the pulses of players and coaches racing.
“Absolutely. Both teams are in good form, the players are fit and healthy and it should be really good if the bad weather stays away,” he told The Gazette.
“But the forecast is pretty bad – very wet with strong winds – but hopefully it holds off until we’ve played. It shouldn’t affect people travelling to the game but it could be bad for the match itself. If that’s the case, we’ll just have to adapt.”
That could mean a change of approach from the Fylde squad as Spragg added: “We have trained accordingly and we trained in strong winds on Tuesday, so that should stand us in good stead. Bad weather probably suits Caldy more than us but we have made plans to deal with it. “It may be that we play a little more pragmatically and kick more than we would normally.”
The Wirral club have averaged 38 points per game and Fylde are one of only three teams to finish within a score of them, going down 24-17 at Paton Field in November.
But Spragg insists his side won’t be fazed by that formidable record, adding: “They are a good side across the park but we are well aware of what they do and every team at this level has its weaknesses. It’s about having the ability to expose them during the course of a game but there are a few areas where we believe we can get at them.
“We are really looking forward to it. We know they have an impressive record and are a long way above us, but we just have to chase as hard as we can.”
Fylde will be without second-rower Olli Parkinson, injured in his comeback game at Chester last weekend, but Spragg added that: “Otherwise we are fit, healthy and going well.”
His side’s run of high-scoring victories was interrupted by a 27-17 defeat by Hinckley in their last home game a fortnight ago but Spragg isn’t getting too hung up on that one.
He said: “We did a lot of things right against Hinckley and it was a close game until half-time. We just didn’t manage to maintain it and we fell away. It’s no great shock because they are a decent team. It was frustrating but not the end of the world.”
Caldy’s top tryscorer is the former Woodlands favourite Nick Royle with 20, one fewer than Fylde’s Tom Carleton. Winger Royle scored 152 tries in 143 games for Fylde and has added 127 in 140 for Caldy since his switch in 2014.
His side are a massive 17 points clear at the top but Fylde’s priority is to stay ahead of third-placed Sedgley Park. The nine-point gap between those clubs was reinstated last weekend, when Sedgley lost 32-11 at Caldy. Sedgley do have a game in hand to be played a week on Saturday – a rematch with Caldy – when Fylde have the weekend off.
That is a designated weekend for clubs to catch up on postponed fixtures. Fylde have had none of those and Spragg hopes the forthcoming break will benefit his side tomorrow.
He said: “The weekend off is much-needed, but also knowing there is no rugby next week may help the players to push themselves that bit more on Saturday, and go in even harder and faster. We will only train once next week.
“They have the chance to make some good memories on Saturday and everyone is excited.”