No let-up in battle for places

De La Harpe - Barbarians' call-up
De La Harpe - Barbarians' call-up

Fylde rugby club coach Mark Nelson insists there will be no let-up in intensity with only two matches of the season to go, starting with the trip to Blaydon on Saturday in National League One.

With two matches left - they entertain Old Albanian a fortnight on Saturday - Fylde can finish third, fourth, fifth or sixth, depending on their performance and results elsewhere.

Nelson said: “There is still lots to play for.

“Blaydon are one place below us and it’s nip and tuck for the third, fourth and fifth position.

“It is certainly not a case of the season petering out for us, so we just have to concentrate on the games that are coming.

“The fact that we have never beaten Blaydon on their ground is motivation in itself.”

Second row Gareth Gore could figure in the Blaydon match even though it had been feared that he would be out for the remainder of the campaign with a shoulder injury.

If he passes a fitness test, Gore will renew his second row partnership with Paul Arnold.

With front row forward Adam Lewis unavailable, Simon Griffiths steps in for the trip to the North East.

Warren Spragg has a calf injury and Ben Rath plays on the wing.

Sam Beaumont is out with an ankle injury.

Fylde (probable) Viney; Rath, S Briers or Barrow, C Briers, Brennand; Johnson, De La Harpe; Birchall, Rylance, Griffiths, Arnold, Gore, Robinson, McGinnis, Stewart. Replacements: Wild, Burtonwood, Vernon, Barrow or S Briers, Webb or Wallwork,

There are two further incentives for Fylde players.

After the league season is completed, there will be places up for grab in Lancashire’s forthcoming defence of the County Championship.

And players who excel for Lancashire could in contention for the England Counties’ tour of Georgia in June, with a number of Fylde players in the frame.

The Counties XV, the representative flagship of community rugby in England, will play both matches at Georgia’s High Performance Centre in Tblisi, the first on June 4 and the second on June 8.

It’s all to play for in the National League One title race, though Doncaster Knights remain very much in pole position - they are four points clear of Rosslyn Park and have two away trips to come at Coventry and Blackheath.

Rosslyn Park round off their season with games against Hull Ionians (away) and Cinderford (home).

At the other end of the table, Henley Hawks’ loss at Fylde last Saturday means they are in the bottom three, heading into their penultimate match of the season against Loughborough Students.

The Students are all but mathematically certain of staying up after a 22-19 home win against Richmond in their latest fixture.

Second-from-bottom Worthing need to win at Old Albanian tomorrow and hope the sides above them slip up to keep their survival battle going until the final weekend.

Tynedale look safe from relegation after their 24-all draw with Cinderford, who still need a minimum of two wins from their last four games to be safe.

*Fylde RFC scrum-half Ryan De La Harpe is able to lay claim to a piece of rugby history.

The Namibian half-back will be the first player from his country to represent the Barbarians.

He has been picked for the match against Clontarf in Ireland on Wednesday, April 23.

Fylde coach Mark Nelson said he was delighted for De La Harpe, who has had an excellent season for the Woodlands club.

Nelson said: “We always encourage our players if they get picked for representative rugby and it is a particular honour for Ryan as he is the first Namibian to represent his country.

“He is not the first Fylde player to be picked and the club is proud when any player is selected for the Barbarians.”