Fylde win Lancashire derby v Sedgley: report & photos
Fylde 43 Sedgley Park 10
Fylde won a tough, no nonsense Lancashire derby against Sedgley Tigers at the Woodlands with something to spare and in doing so consolidated their leadership of National One. The victory was achieved by hard work, forward domination for major parts of the game and clinical finishing. The day was spolit somewhat by injuries to flanker Evan Stewart and hooker Alex Loney but the pleasure of their first ever league triumph against their North Manchester rivals at their fifth attempt was tangible.
The foundation of Fylde's win was established in the 1st half during which they established a four try, 22-3 advantage. They set their standard as early as the 3rd minute when concerted pressure 10m out from the Sedgley line saw a clever overhead pass by their former player Paul Arnold gave hooker Alex Loney enough space in which to dive for a try in the left corner. Steve Collins' attempted conversion from the touchline drifted wide.
Six minutes later Fylde indiscipline in their own half gave Sedgley fullback Greg Smith the chance to kick a straightforward penalty to reduce the deficit to 3-5. The next 25 minutes was almost all Fylde. On 14 minutes a penalty kick to the left corner after a Sedgley offence led to a convincing driving maul which powered over the line with lock Gareth Rawlings the last man up. 8-3 to the home side.
It was a re-run on 21 minutes when it was Paul Arnold who was driven over the line for his first try of the season. The Fylde driving maul caused Sedgley real difficulties throughout the match. The Sedgley pack, with no 8 Juan Crous leading the charge against his old club, battled hard but Fylde's tackling and competition at the breakdown denied them any reward.
When it came to open play, Fylde looked far more dangerous. Their backline snapped into action and winger Nick Royle caused any amount of consternation with some sniping runs. But on 25 minutes it was his wing partner Oli Brennand who made his mark. From a maul deep inside the Fylde half, flanker Evan Stewart burst away down the blindside and drew the defender before releasing Brennand along the left touchline. He went outside a desperate tackle and raced 40m for a fine try. Collins converted for a 22-3 lead.
The Tigers came into the match more strongly in the last 15 minutes of the half. Their big pack hammered away but their backs could find no way through the home defence. On one occasion when they swept left, centre Matt Riley, with a two man overlap, couldn't get his pass away and the chance had gone. They had sustained pressure on the Fylde line as the half-time whisle approached but were denied by fierce Fylde tackling.
Early in the 2nd half flanker Stewart twisted his ankle badly and received extensive treatment on the pitch before being helped off to be replaced by Cameron Thompson. Minutes later, equally influential Fylde forward Alex Loney also limped off with a severe deadleg. His replacement, former Tigers player Jonny Roddam was soon in the heat of the battle and finished off another driving maul to claim a try on 59 minutes. Steve Collins converted and Fylde were more or less out of sight at 29-3.
But Sedgley fought back strongly and had their best period of the game. They threw the kitchen sink at the Fylde defence and Josh Beaumont was yellow carded for offside in front of the posts. Tigers opted for a scrummage and scrum-half Simon Parrott skipped through a rather 'at sixes and sevens' Fylde defence to score under the posts. Smith converted to reduce the deficit to 10-29.
But, in the style of the match overall, Fylde re-established control and fought hard to offset their numerical disadvantage. This was personified when Sedgley winger Steve Nutt tried to get around Gareth Rawlings on the right touchline. The big lock, justifiably named as the Rugby Paper's Man of the Match, threw himself at Nutt and picked up a badly cut eyebrow in the process which ruled him out of the rest of the game. With all the forward replacements used, the hardly hefty centre Stephen Briers was called off the bench to play flanker for the first time in his senior career and looked rather puzzled as to where to stand at the next lineout. "Just keep tackling" was the simple instruction from his team mates!
With the younger Beaumont back on the field, Fylde had a strong last 10 minutes. In the 76th minute Nick Royle raced 30m through a Sedgley defence on its collective heels and powered over for a typical try under the posts. Collins converted once more.
The last major act of the game saw another Fylde attack and Chris Briers following up his grubber kick through the defence by diving on the loose ball for the try. Collins converted for a definitive 43-10 final score. Apart from the greater attacking ambition of the home side, an abiding memory of the game was the quality of the defence exemplified throughout the team but none more so than centres Mike Waywell and Chris Briers.
Fylde Chairman Michael Brennand, obviously pleased at the performance of the squad, paid tribute to the Sedgley officials and supporters who endured a rather difficult afternoon with generosity and traditional rugby off the field comraderie. It's very important that Lancashire rugby is strong and as the County's two top clubs we have to hope that both thrive in the division."
Click here for Steve Simpson's match report in the Blackpool Gazette.
Photos courtesy of Chris Farrow.