Bishop’s Stortford 70 Fylde 24
Fylde’s first ever visit to Bishop’s Stortford’s Silver Heys ground was memorable, but for the wrong reasons for the Lancastrians. They were hit by an eleven try display by the Hertfordshire club and, although scoring four fine tries of their own, went down to their heaviest defeat in this most disappointing season for the Woodlands club. However, they were competitive in the 1st half and their tries were excellent. In the end though, BS had too much pace out wide for the Fylde defence and home winger Ryan Hutler filled his boots with five scores.
Fylde started off strongly and threatened the home defence as they pressed forward. It was against the run of play in the 7th minute when a telegraphed long floated Fylde pass out wide was intercepted and centre Sam Winter cantered in under the posts. Fly-half George Cullen converted for a 7-0 lead.
Fylde hit back two minutes later when a neat backs move resulted in Connor Wilkinson, in the unusual fullback role, sprinting through the home defence beautifully to score out wide. Greg Smith was unable to add the extras but the visitors had put down a marker about their intention to play their normal attacking game.
The breathless early cut and thrust continued when, in the 12th minute, Cullen made space to set winger Hutler free to score in the corner. 12-5.
Once again, Fylde stormed back and in the 23rd minute winger Tom Carleton finished off another fine move with a dash to touchdown in the corner. This time Smith converted it with a lovely kick from the touchline to level up the scores.
The last thirteen minutes running up to halftime was the Ryan Hutler Show as he demonstrated outstanding finishing to notch three tries, in the 27th, 29th and 37th minutes. No 8 Steve Ball was dangerous with powerful runs at the Fylde defence and Hutler capitalised on this for his 2nd try. Cullen was having a good kicking day and converted all three to give his side a dominating 33-12 lead at the interval.
As with the 1st half, Fylde began the 2nd period on the attack. Their forwards worked hard throughout and more or less held their own in the scrummages and lineouts. Fresh legs had been introduced at halftime with lock Nick Ashcroft and hooker Ben Gregory entering the fray. In the 46th minute superb combination work between their forwards and backs, with the ball passing through many pairs of hands and some neat offloading, resulted in Tom Carleton once again piercing the home defence to score a fine try, his 11th in a very productive season. Greg Smith was unable to nail the conversion but Fylde had reduced the deficit to 33-17.
The roller coaster continued as within a few minutes Hutler scored his fifth try, benefitting from good work by wing partner Joss Linney. Hutler burst through the middle and round a rather flat footed Fylde defence to score out wide. Cullen converted from out wide and BS were up to 40 points. They extended this five minutes later when openside flanker Baxter Wilson latched on to a crossfield grubber kick to force his way over wide out. Cullen missed the conversion but at 45-17 Stortford were well clear.
Nick Ashcroft was sinbinned in the 63rd minute and three minutes later BS took advantage with winger Linney getting his own reward when, after a quick lineout, he muscled his way through the visitors defence to score. Cullen’s conversion extended the lead to 52-17.
Fylde heads didn’t drop, however, and they put in some sustained attacking. Hero turned villain in the 68th minute when Baxter Wilson saw yellow and it was Fylde’s turn to exploit their man advantage. They earned a couple of penalties and from the second they manufactured a move which finished with lock Olli Parkinson driving over the line wide out. Smith converted excellently to reduce the deficit to 52-24.
This was as good as it got for Fylde as the home side stepped up their efforts to finish the game with a flourish. Within two minutes they conceded another unconverted try, as replacement prop Will Roberts drove over at the back of a maul from a lineout. Two more converted tries came in the last two minutes of the game, firstly by Chris Smith, then a 60m effort by centre Nick Hankin.
It doesn’t get any easier for Fylde as they face another two difficult away matches, starting with 2nd placed Darlington Mowden Park next Saturday and finishing at Cambridge on the last day of the season. A home match with relegation threatened Loughborough Students splits these two trips.
Click here for excellent match photos from Andy Todd Photography.