Fylde battered but unbowed at DMP
Darlington Mowden Park 40 Fylde 14
19 years old Connor Wilkinson coped admirably with a full National League debut for Fylde and Matt Garrod (18) and Richard Whiteside (20) also came off the bench as the club focuses on the future in this season’s final handful of games.
With Chris Johnson unlikely to play again this season because of facial damage and with Tom Morton also injured, Wilkinson made his first-team bow in the pivotal fly-half role alongside Greg Nicholls. Another Sale Sharks' youngster, Sam Bedlow, made his season debut for the Club at full-back and also had an impressive game.
Fylde were missing ten players through injury and unavailability and this became another unfortunate day for injuries. It began with centre Ralph Dowds being forced off with an ankle injury in the 1st half shortly before no 8 Sam Beaumont suffered a likely season ending shoulder injury just before the interval. Fylde's pack was under pressure throughout the match but up to Beaumont's departure had kept the score down to 7-12. The other two local new boys were involved in the 2nd half as the visitors also lost prop Simon Griffiths to a twisted ankle and lock Nick Gray to a back injury.
The injuries forced Fylde into some unlikely reshuffling, with Evan Stewart coming off the bench into the backrow, flanker Ben Vernon pressed into service on the wing and Oliver Brennand plugging the gap at full-back for the first time in his career.
A determined DMP opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a close quarter drive over the line by prop Darrn Fearn and repeated this in the 27th minute to take a 12-0 lead. Centre Scott Rawlings battered his way through the home defence in the 33rd minute and converted his own try to reduce the deficit to 7-12 in the 31st minute. Fearn completed an unlikely hat-trick of tries with another close quarters effort just before the interval to extend his side's lead to 19-7.
Fylde's makeshift XV worked hard to get back in the game but their hopes were soon dashed as the hosts dominated possession and territory and added converted tries through lock Tailiti Vaioletti, fullback Jamie Barnard and winger Pete Homan to open up a 40-7 lead with 20 minutes left.
It was to Fylde’s great credit that they scored the only try of the final quarter through replacement Phil Mills, also converted by Rawlings. But for some gutsy defence and spirited play by Fylde, DMP's score could well have gone over the half-century.
Coach Paul Arnold described his team's biggest defeat of the season as “a tough day at the office” but praised the young trio. He said: “I am looking to the future. Well done to all three of them but DMP were very well organised.”