Fylde worked hard and productively for their 29-20 victory over Rosslyn Park at the Woodlands. This was this very young squad’s first win of the campaign and they deserved it with a display of running, attacking rugby. Sometimes they made it hard for themselves with errors but stuck at it and battled through. Four tries to two exemplified a much more convincing and penetrative display by their dangerous backline, capitalising on possession earned by their hard working pack. Tom Carleton’s startling last minute try earned their first bonus point of the season to complete a happy afternoon for the Woodlands club.
The early exchanges were even as the two fly-halves, Park’s Harry Leonard and Fylde’s Greg Smith, converted straightforward penalties in the first six minutes. Park took the lead when, after several phases of driving forward play, Park’s backs moved left and centre Dan Barnes found plenty of space to touch down. Leonard converted well for a 3-10 lead.
In the 18th minute Fylde backs attacked from centre field. Quick passing and a long miss pass to winger Tom Grimes set him free down the left touchline. He evaded a couple of attempted tackles and raced in for an excellent 50m try. Greg Smith was unable to add the conversion from wide out.
At this stage, neither team dominated the scrummages but Park had the advantage in the line-out where Fylde were unable to disrupt the visitors ball. The accomplished Barnes was then forced off with a nasty looking leg injury. The Fylde backs were looking very lively and in the 30th minute they demonstrated their firepower. Fullback Tom Carleton made a break from midfield before this was carried on with forwards support. The ball was moved smartly along the backline and centre Chris Briers broke the defensive line to score down the Fylde left. Smith’s attempted conversion drifted wide but his side had a deserved 13-10 lead.
Fylde were experiencing their usual difficulties with controlling the re-start kicks. Almost immediately they conceded a penalty and, given his generally authoritative goal kicking, it was surprising that Leonard pulled the kick wide.
Fylde went up to the other end and Greg Smith converted a penalty in front of the posts. Back came Rosslyn Park and they launched a fierce attack inside the Fylde 22m line. It looked as if they would score in the left corner but Briers managed to get his hand to the final pass. It looked as though he was rather lucky not to be sinbinned but referee Michael Harris only awarded a penalty against the Fylde centre. A kick to the corner and subsequent Park lineout was defended bravely by Fylde and they managed to get the turnover as the half-time whistle was blown.
Park dominated the early minutes of the 2nd half and they took the lead in the 49th minute. Attacking the Clubhouse end they finished a period of pressure when blindside flanker Henry Spencer forced his way over near the posts. Leonard converted easily and his side led by 16-17.
The admirable frontrowers Jake Pope and Ben Gregory gave way to Mark Irving and Tom Burtonwood. At the next scrummage in the 56th minute the Fylde pack drove their opponents backwards and won a penalty in front of the posts which Smith converted to regain the lead.
The see-saw nature of the game was exemplified minutes later when Fylde were penalised at a scrum and Leonard once again kicked his side ahead at 19-20.
Fylde took control of the last 20 minutes and regained the lead with an excellent try in the 67th minute. They were 30m out from the Park line when their backs moved right. Centre Connor Wilkinson exploited a dog leg in the Park defensive line before finding Tom Carleton who gave the vital pass to winger Henry Hadfield to score his debut try for the Club from 15m out.
At 24-20, the game was intense and the home crowd was anxious to see if their side could defend this in the last 15 minutes. There were dangerous moments but Fylde maintained their composure and avoided some of the errors which had occurred earlier in the match. Park’s cause wasn’t helped in the 74th minute when, sadly, fullback Russell Weir was also helped off with a leg injury.
In the 79th minute a kick downfield by Leonard was fielded by Hadfield who sent out a long pass on the halfway line to Tom Carleton. The young speedster looked up and saw acres of space down the Fylde left. He was never going to waste such an opportunity as he raced clear. A defender made a rather unwise decision to show him the outside and the youngster hared past him and finished without a hand laid on him. The home crowd rose in acclamation as the crucial score also brought a 4 try bonus point.
All four tries were scored by their outside backs in a much more penetrative display than earlier games. At least as importantly, the Fylde defensive effort was courageous, with backrowers Adam McCarthy, Toby Harrison, Matt Postlethwaite, making his home debut, and replacement Ben Vernon all putting in big tackling shifts.
This was no perfect performance as there were too many errors which put Fylde under pressure. But this squad, with an average age of just 22.5 years, is learning and Head Coach Warren Spragg is pleased with the progress being made each week. With the return to fitness of forwards Olli Parkinson, Harlan Corrie and the availability of David Fairbrother in the coming weeks then they can look forward with confidence to a very tough sequence of matches against top clubs such as Ampthill and Coventry.
The Fylde coaches named Carleton as their man of the match but this reporter believes he was shaded, just, by Chris Briers who was excellent throughout in attack and defence.
FYLDE – Tries: Grimes (18mins), Briers (30mins), Hadfield (67mins), Carleton (79mins).
Pens: Smith 3 (6mins, 38mins, 56mins)
ROSSLYN PARK – Tries: Barnes (11mins), Spencer (49mins).
Conv: Leonard 2 (12mins, 50mins)
Pens: Leonard 2 (3mins, 60mins)
FYLDE: 15 Tom Carleton; 14 Henry Hadfield, 13 Chris Briers, 12 Connor Wilkinson, 11 Tom Grimes; 10 Greg Smith, 9 Alex Dolly; 1 Jake Pope (Mark Irving 50), 2 Ben Gregory (Tom Burtonwood 50), 3 Adam Lewis (c), 4 Matt Garrod (Ben Vernon 55), 5 Nick Ashcroft, 6 Matt Postlethwaite, 7 Adam McCarthy, 8 Toby Harrison.
Non-playing replacements: Danny Carlton & George Brookes.
ROSSLYN PARK: 15 Russell Weir (Thomas Vaughan-Edwards 74), 14 Ben Marfo (Alfie Dudman-Jones 64), 13 Andrew Hendeson, 12 Daniel Barnes (Oliver Grove 27), 11 Rhys Crane, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Will Crow; 1 Maurice Nwakor, 2 Thomas Vaughan-Edwards (Adam Bellamy 57), 3 Fergus Farrell (Nathan Hughes 57), 4 Paul Spivey, 5 Matt Macpherson (Harry Hudson 65), 6 Henry Spencer, 7 Frank Taggart. 8 Josh Ovens (c).