Fylde travel to Esher on Saturday for a very important game for both teams who are locked in the bottom half of National One (ko 3pm). This will be the Lancastrians eighth visit to Molesey Road and they have yet to notch a win. Three successive narrow defeats have characterised their lack of fortune: 24-27 (2013-14), 28-29 (2014-15) and 24-26 (2015-16). They will hope that Lady Luck at least half smiles on their efforts.
Esher's chequered season include home wins against Macclesfield, Coventry, Blaydon, Cambridge and Loughborough Students. Like Fylde they have struggled on the road and have yet to win an away game.
Esher was established in 1923, four years later than Fylde, but it didn't break through to the national level until the mid-1990s. Fylde played Esher for the first time in the 2000/1 season at level three, then called National Two. The clubs met a total of six times in the three seasons leading up to Fylde's relegation from that division in 2002/3. All were won by the Surrey club.
The two clubs' fortunes diverged after 2003 as Fylde slipped to level four whilst in 2006/7 Esher gained promotion to the Championship, level two. They were very unfortunate to be relegated in the final game of the 2011/12 season.
Since the clubs found themselves back at level 3 in 2012, there have been nine high scoring games at an average of 52 points per match. With the help of a double victory last season, Esher have the bragging rights with five victories against Fylde’s three.
2012/3 Fylde 39 Esher 22 Esher 33 Fylde 24
2013/4 Esher 27 Fylde 24 Fylde 33 Esher 7
2014/5 Esher 29 Fylde 28 Fylde 48 Esher 17
2015/6 Fylde 21 Esher 31 Esher 26 Fylde 24
2016/7 Fylde 26 Esher 20
Esher has a similar 'all club' approach to that of Fylde, with six senior teams playing regular fixtures along with an Academy XV and a very buoyant Mini-Junior section. The most well known personality closely connected with the Club is past player and official John Inverdale, the BBC broadcaster.
The experienced Director of Rugby is Ricky Nebbett, ably assisted by the former Harlequins star Tom Williams (220 Premiership & Cup appearances), who is Head Coach.
New players this season include powerhouse Kiwi prop Karl Furey who may well have locked horns with our own David Fairbrother in different shirts last season. Both competed in the International Defence Rugby Challenge, Furey for New Zealand Defence Blacks as a member of the Royal NZ Navy, Royal Marine 'Fairy' for the RN squad. Another prominent newcomer with Kiwi roots is former Saracens centre Sam Stanley, with a famous NZ/Samoan family heritage. Sam, who has an English mother, has representative honours for England age group teams and made the England 7s squad in 2013 & 2014. He joins from Ealing Trailfinders where he played last season.
Their more than useful pack is based on the foundation of props Cameron Zeiss (ex-Tarbe, Leeds Carnegie & Plymouth Albion), Karl Furey and Cameron Leigh, and hooker Callum O'Connell (ex-Hartpury College). The Backrow roster includes Cameron Gentiles, Isaac Curtis-Harris, Peter Synnott, Charles Gossington and Tom Yellowlees.
In their back line, half-back partnerships have been the very experienced goal kicking fly-half Paul Roberts (formerly Doncaster, Plymouth & Bath) or Stephen Boatman, with scrum-halves Andrew Garner and Tom Chalcraft. Dangerous runners include fullback Lloyd Davies, big & powerful wing Andy Wright (ex-Doncaster Knights), speedster fullback/wing Spencer Sutherland, wingers Tom James and Gabriel Ibitoye, centres Tom Cheeseman (ex-Bath) and Joe Brown.
Leading try scorers are Andrew Garner and Joe Brown with six, and highest scorer overall is Stephen Boatman with 87 points.
The Esher squad is:
Fylde make one change from the squad that faced Hartpury last Saturday. Nick Gray isn't available so Jack Turley moves to lock and Matt Lamprey starts in the backrow.