Birmingham Moseley 36-21 Fylde
A gutsy 2nd half display by Fylde in which they scored three tries was unable to prevent defeat against a powerful Birmingham Moseley squad at Billesley Common. Going 26-0 down in the 48th minute proved too much of a deficit for the Lancastrians to claw back, despite Moseley being reduced to 14 men when centre Tim Molenaar was shown a straight red card in the 1st half.
Fylde held their own in the opening exchanges as both teams struggled for supremacy. As the big Moseley pack increased their efforts, they broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute when blindside flanker Jacques Le Roux smashed his way over the try line following sustained pressure. Fly-half Sam Hollingsworth missed the subsequent conversion.
Six minutes later Moseley were again near the Fylde line and Le Roux drove over to claim his second try. This time Hollingsworth nailed the conversion for a 12-0 lead.
The next ten minutes were crucial to the final outcome. Immediately after the Moseley try, home centre Molenaar tipped Nick Ashcroft up in the tackle and the young lock crashed to the ground. Referee Neil Chivers showed Molenaar a straight red card. With 50 minutes of the match to go, surely Fylde would be able to exploit their man advantage? Things looked positive as they kicked a penalty to the corner and set up a powerful driving maul only for it to be held up over the Moseley line. The home team subsequently cleared the danger.
The visitors continued to step up their efforts but were initially struggling to penetrate the durable Moseley defence. Moseley took advantage of Fylde indiscipline to pin them back in their own half. Scrum-half Alex Dolly was sinbinned and, with both teams at 14 players, Moseley kicked the subsequent penalty for the corner. As the Moseley pack pressed towards the line, veteran hooker Adam Caves drove over from close range for the try. Hollingsworth converted and the teams trooped off to the changing rooms at the interval with Moseley holding a 19-0 lead.
Referee Chivers continued to be annoyed by the Lancastrians and on one occasion marched them back 10m for back chat after a penalty decision, and then a further 10 for a second remark. The Moseley pressure told as South African flanker Le Roux again demonstrated his power around the fringes of scrummages and lineouts by scoring his hat trick try in the 47th minute. Hollingsworth added the extras for a 26-0 lead to the 14 men.
Fylde then started to exploit their extra space as Moseley began to tire. In the 57th minute replacement prop Jake Pope smashed a defender out of the way, broke clear and neatly offloaded to Alex Dolly who sniped down the left touchline for a good try and half-back partner Greg Smith converted it to get his side on the scoreboard.
As Fylde pressed forward, Moseley centre Ollie Allsopp offended and he was yellow carded. Now with a two-man advantage and, following some fluent attacking by Tom Carleton and then via Nick Ashcroft and Tom Burtonwood to Connor Wilkinson. The centre had a great deal to do, 30m out and tight on the right touchline but he skipped past a couple of defenders to score an excellent try, his fourth of the season. Smith converted well and the match was clearly up for grabs at 26-14.
Another critical moment followed in the 65th minute when 13-man Moseley again pressed deep in Fylde territory and fly-half Hollingsworth found space to score Moseley’s fifth try. He converted it for a 33-14 lead. This was surely the coup de grâce for the home side.
However, despite Fylde’s very difficult season, they’ve never given up the fight easily. In the 69th minute, following a Moseley high tackle, Smith kicked for the corner. From the subsequent driving maul, replacement hooker Ben Gregory was last man up to claim the try. Greg Smith kicked a tricky conversion and the deficit was down to 33-21. Once again, the match was not quite dead.
With Moseley back to 14 players, they had the final say when Hollingsworth kicked the only penalty of the match to leave the final score at 36-21 in an entertaining exhibition of National One rugby.
Fylde Head Coach Warren Spragg said: “We were unlucky not to come away with anything today. We played the better rugby, especially in the second half but struggled to defend against their big runners which led to some soft scores around the breakdown. I think our scrum was really competitive and caused them a lot of issues in an area they have consistently dominated against teams this season. We were on the wrong side of some strange calls by the officials in this area. Ultimately, if we can reduce our penalty count and unforced handling errors, we will be able to beat anybody we come up against in the final run in, regardless of league positions.”
Photos below courtesy of Sean Wilkinson, Ian Garrod and Dan Bellinger.
FYLDE: 15 Tom Carleton; 14 Henry Hadfield, 13 Chris Briers, 12 Connor Wilkinson, 11 James Bailey (Luke Fowden 75); 10 Greg Smith, 9 Alex Dolly; 1 Adam Lewis (c), 2 Alex Loney (Ben Gregory 51), 3 Mark Irving (Jake Pope 51), 4 Nick Ashcroft (Garrod 69), 5 Olli Parkinson, 6 Will Hopwood (Ben Vernon 58), 7 Tom Burtonwood, 8 David Fairbrother.