Fylde take the spoils v Loughborough Students

Fylde 33 Loughborough Students 7

Fylde put in another impressive performance, this time against Loughborough Students at the Woodlands, and maintained their paper thin points advantage at the top of National Two (North). They started in blistering form and dominated the 1st half by a huge margin. The Students came back gamely and strongly in the second period but never threatened to get anywhere near the home side. Fylde closed out the game with their fifth try in the final minute to emphasise their superiority.

It was a dismally grey but mercifully dry day on an excellent surface as the Students kicked off with the Clubhouse at their backs. Fylde like to play towards the Clubhouse in the 2nd half of matches but they didn’t let this put them off as they roared into the attack. They ran the ball from everywhere and opened the scoring in the 4th minute. The backs moved left and Scott Rawlings did the thing he does best, charging into defenders, staying on his feet and off loading to supporting runners. This time the ball reached winger Tom Grimes and he raced down the left touchline to score with ease. Fly half Greg Smith nailed the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Fylde began to win penalties as they pressured the Loughborough pack in the loose and scrummages. From one of these in the13th minute, Smith kicked for the corner and the subsequent maul drove over the Students’ line with flanker Jacob Conner the beneficiary for his first try of the season. Smith kicked a fine conversion from near the touchline.

There was no let up for the Students as Fylde continued their remorseless attacking. From a scrummage 20m out from the Loughborough line, the Fylde pack drove the visitors off their own ball. No 8 David Fairbrother picked up and with the Students defence unprepared he scored easily near the posts. Smith converted for a 21-0 advantage.

It was half an hour into the game before Loughborough when they earned a penalty and kicked for the corner. Unfortunately for them, the throw to the 6’8” lock Cameron Boon wasn’t straight and the chance was lost.

Back roared Fylde to press deep inside the Students half. They suffered the same fate with a crooked throw at a lineout and Loughborough cleared their lines. Then hooker Ben Gregory broke from halfway and raced towards the try line. He was caught by the last defender and with a couple of players outside him the chance was gone.

With the half-time whistle sounding the crowd could reflect on 40 minutes of pretty much dominant rugby and Fylde might reasonably have scored two or three more tries.

With the Students shuffling their squad and bringing on replacements, they began the 2nd half in much more purposefully. They attacked left and right prompted by replacement scrum-half Jonathan Law. The Fylde defence held strong but this was much more like the Loughborough running game with which we are so familiar.

Also at the break, Fylde rang the changes, with Tom Carleton switched to scrum-half in place of Adam Lanigan and Sale Sharks DR Tom Roebuck taking his usual wing place. Scott Rawlings was also rested for taxing games ahead and Tom Forster came on at centre. Injuries to Jacob Conner and David Fairbrother disrupted Fylde’s play for a while

It wasn’t until the 55th minute that Fylde exerted serious pressure inside the Students’ half. From a scrum 20m out from their line, Greg Smith chipped to the far left corner but Tom Grimes was unable to catch the tricky ball in the in-goal area. Referee Llyr Apgeraint-Roberts had already signalled for a Fylde penalty and went back to the right side. From the subsequent lineout, the Fylde pack set up a driving maul and skipper Adam Lewis drove over for his second try of the season. Smith pulled the attempted conversion wide but a 26-0 lead was convincing.

Head Coach Warren Spragg used the maximum of ten interchanges of players as he gave game time to all the replacements. Adam Lanigan returned to the fray in the 58th minute in place of fullback Joe Carpenter. The youngster had already given plenty of evidence of his incredible footwork, exhibiting side stepping not seen on the ground since that of Jason Robinson in 2010-11!

The Loughborough squad fought back gamely and in the 69th minute they gained their deserved reward when they opened their account with winger Will Brown skating through a rather static home defence to score near the posts. Fly-half Owen Waters converted for a 26-7 score line.

Fylde were to have the last laugh with a coda in the last minute. The ball was loose near the halfway line and was hacked over the Loughborough goal line. The very speedy replacement winger Tom Roebuck beat the retreating defenders and just touched down as the ball was about to go over the back line. Greg Smith’s conversion was on target from wide out and the game finished with Fylde’s deserved 33-7 victory.

With Caldy’s big win at bottom of the table Scunthorpe, nothing changed at the top of National Two (North), Fylde retain the leadership with a single point lead over the Cheshire club who have a game in hand. Fylde will make the long trip to Herefordshire next Saturday to take on 15th placed Luctonians.

Fylde Head Coach Warren Spragg said: “I thought we were outstanding in the first 15 minutes and some of the ball movement and speed of support was the best we have produced so far this season.

“We were disappointed to miss a few more scoring opportunities before half time that would’ve put the game out of reach, but we did enough to keep a good Loughborough side at bay and dominate for most of the game.

“Greg Smith deserved the man of the match award, but it could easily have gone to Ben Gregory, Adam Lewis or either of the 2nd rows, Nick Ashcroft or Olli Parkinson, who all had fantastic games.” 

Click here for Chris Farrow’s album of action photos.

FYLDE: 15 Joe Carpenter (Adam Lanigan 58); 14 Tom Carleton, 13  Connor Wilkinson (Scott Rawlings 73), 12 Scott Rawlings (Tom Forster 40), 11 Tom Grimes; 10 Greg Smith, 9 Adam Lanigan (Tom Roebuck 40); 1 Elliot Horner (Matt Ashcroft 55), 2 Ben Gregory (Drew Stephenson 73), 3 Adam Lewis, 4 Nick Ashcroft, 5 Olli Parkinson, 6 Jacob Conner, 7 Ben Vernon (David Fairbrother 57), 8 David Fairbrother (Hallam Chapman 47).

LOUGHBOROUGH STUDENTS: 15 Will Kaye; 14 Will Brown, 13 Josh Lewis, 12 Iwan Burgwin (Charlie Hudson 50), 11 Fadahunsi Bamidele; 10 Owen Waters, 9 Will Lane (Jonathan Law 40); 1 Keston Lines, 2 Jamie Harding (Archie Bourne 50), 3 Josh Toms (Toby Forrester 52), 4 Dan Cuthbert, 5 Cameron Boon (David Aniebonam 40), 6 Luke Crampton, 7 Andrew Bywater, 8 Matt Wilkinson (Cameron Boon 73).

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