Fylde 31 Tynedale 5
Report by Simon Taylor
Fylde put the disappointment of the end of their nine game unbeaten run last Saturday firmly behind them and returned to winning ways with a comprehensive four try victory over Tynedale at the Woodlands. After their narrow defeat in the snow of Sheffield they mastered the persistent precipitation of the Fylde coast and for large parts of the game dominated the visitors to produce a really solid all round team performance and fully deserved their bonus point victory.
Tynedale put Fylde to the sword back in October in the reverse fixture with a 59-15 hammering and have been on a decent run since with 8 wins and 5 losses. They have pushed all the teams above them close in defeat and soundly beat second placed Chester 35-5 in the previous fixture. This, then, was a game that was going to take some winning but Fylde were in no mood to let another outfit complete the league double over them having succumbed to that outcome at Sheffield last time out.
Fylde kicked off away from the clubhouse and immediately forced a line out in the Tynedale 22. From this they launched several phases of possession and looked like they were in for the opening score until a team mate got in the way of Tom Grimes as he cut back against the grain and instead of a clear run in the referee penalised Fylde for crossing. With the heavens open and the pitch sodden Greg Smith was forced to change his boots in only the third minute and with his new bobby dazzlers on slid a fine kick in to 10 yards out from the opposition line. Tynedale knocked on in their exit giving Fylde their first scrum but they lost this against the head then gave another penalty away and Tynedale cleared to halfway.
Tynedale had a large pack with a huge jumper in former Newcastle squad second row Harry Snowdon who stole the next Fylde line out against the throw and set the platform for phased play. A neat chip through into the in goal area followed and prolific try scoring winger Morgan Passman got to the ball first to give Tynedale the lead at 5-0 in the seventh minute, the conversion being missed.
A third penalty against Fylde for a high tackle saw them back in their half defending again and Tynedale then produced a 20 yard line out catch and driving maul. As the clock ticked towards the 20-minute mark Fylde were in need of a flash of inspiration to get them going and break this mini period of Tynedale dominance. Their chance came when a Tynedale ball carrier knocked on in midfield on half way. Quick as a flash Connor Wilkinson swooped on the loose ball and fed Tom Grimes, he drew the last man and put Tom Carleton in space wide out and it was good night nurse as the three defenders attempting to cover could only watch him barely hit third gear as he cantered half the length of the field and scored near the post. Smith converted and Fylde were in front at 7-5.
This score seemed to settle Fylde down and from this point on they got into their groove and played a solid and sensible ‘grind them down’ game suited to the way the opposition were playing, their own strengths and the conditions. They were awarded their first penalty 35 metres out on 26 minutes which Smith knocked over to make it 10-5 and were back on the attack again after a fine kick by class act England Under 20 scrum half Gus Warr which took play up to the Tynedale 22 in the 26th minute.
The line out calls were working well to get over the head of Snowdon and the first of several fine takes by Matt Garrod set up a catch and drive which the forwards carried on for 20 metres. The ball was fed to Smith and with Tynedale expecting him to release his dangerous backline he instead took on the line himself, twisting and turning through the tackle to go over for the try which he converted himself and the lead was now healthy at 17-5. Another towering Garrod take and deft kick from Smith gave Fylde one last chance at points before the break but they were penalised and had to settle for a 12 point advantage and a brief respite from the wet stuff which was still coming down like stair rods.
The second half saw Lex Botha replace Henry Hadfield on the wing to make his home debut for the first team. Fylde began where they had left off with focused and despite the conditions largely error free play, forcing the first of a run of five consecutive home penalties in the first minute of the second half. They monopolised possession and made sure they played in the right areas, relying on their solid defence keeping Tynedale pinned in their own half. A Gus Warr kick was chased well by Botha and his cohorts and the Tynedale player was held up and the ball ripped from his grasp.
A penalty to Fylde was kicked to 20 metres out and the catch and drive set up once more. Again this was unstoppable, with the forwards doing all the hard work driving close to the line before Connor Wilkinson like a thief in the night joined the party and got his hands on the ball to claim the try. This seems to becoming the norm nowadays with the backs pinching tries that the forwards have done all the hard labour to earn, Wilkinson quite rightly looked rather bashful as he grinned his way back to the halfway line. Smith again knocked over the conversion and 24-5 already looked a winning lead the way Fylde were playing.
From the kick off Wilkinson was in the thick of it again breaking the line but his kick ahead was a touch heavy and Tynedale touched down for a 22 drop out, which was knocked on by a Fylde player 40 metres out. There then followed the most amazing scrum which Fylde won against the head and pushed Tynedale back a full 35 metres to just short of their try line, where they in desperation collapsed it giving a penalty away.
Not surprisingly Fylde chose to scrum again and after a further penalty for collapsing they were going over with the third scrum when a Tynedale player entered illegally and kicked the ball out. The referee rightly awarded the penalty try and Fylde’s celebrations and the ignominy of the way the last 3 scrums had gone was too much for one of the Tynedale props who started the habitual push and shove (and a bit more) fest. He was duly dispatched to the naughty step for 10 minutes and with 62 minutes gone Fylde had achieved the try bonus point and the win was in no doubt.
Ben Gregory and Cal Ford replaced Alex Loney and Bevan Rodd and over the next ten minutes Cameron Crampton came on for Gus Warr and Chris Briers for Ralph Dowds. Tynedale did not lie down and die and forced three of the remaining four penalties and some possession and territory but without really threatening to trouble the scoreboard again. Fylde were now content that it was job done and were happy to peg Tynedale back in their 22 with Crampton using his boot wisely to do so.
The rain came down still heavier and the two packs were becoming indistinguishable in the muddy conditions. Finally the referee, who controlled proceedings admirably and looked like he could have done a decent shift in either pack himself, called time and Fylde could be congratulated for a fine performance and get off for their post match Bovril.
This could have been a very tricky game for Fylde but they produced a mature and solid performance to strangle the life out of Tynedale and other than the opening try from a chip through the visitors never really looked like scoring. With only two forwards on the bench it was important the pack put in a committed shift and they all did this to a man. The scrum other than the first one being lost against the head was particularly impressive, the sight of a pack being pushed back 35 metres in one scrum is something to behold. Allied to the forward display was a set of backs that can turn defence into attack in the blink of an eye and get a score out of nowhere. There were no weaknesses in the team on the day although Man of the Match went again to Greg Smith for his try, 100% goal kicking success and all round game management. Tynedale’s Man of the Match was scrum half Matthew Outson.
Fylde remain in fourth place but with leaders Hull Ionians losing Fylde are now only 5 points behind them with 10 games left. Four of those are at home and six away including trips to Ionians, third place Huddersfield and fifth place Otley, they entertain second place Chester at home. The league is definitely still up for grabs and with the next two games being bottom team Peterborough away and sixth place Hinckley at home Fylde will need to take care of business in those two games ahead of their trip to Ionians the week after.
Coach Warren Spragg said: “I’m glad I was coaching today rather than playing – it was a day for the rugby purist! Tynedale absolutely hammered us at the start of the season. We had our worst game on their ground where everything fell apart. To be able to go out there today and turn it around by putting in such a good performance, and get maximum points, was excellent. After last week’s defeat at Sheffield too, where the lads were very disappointed to lose, we couldn’t train on Tuesday because of the weather so I was a bit nervous about today.
“The overall outcome was really pleasing. Our forwards were very impressive and worked very hard to get the dominance in the scrummages, and whatever that strange thing was when we went 40m towards their line in the 2nd half. I thought I was watching a black & white film from the 1950s! Only Malcolm Phillips would have been able to recognise that from his playing days! I’m really pleased overall for the lads, and for Greg Smith to get his try as well as kick so well. It’ll do his confidence a world of good. We like him, we trust him and after his disappointment last week this was a great comeback.
Fylde: 15 T. Carleton, 14 H. Hadfield, 13 R. Dowds, 12 C. Wilkinson, 11 T. Grimes, 10 G. Smith, 9 G. Warr, 8 J. Connor, 7. S. Dugdale, 6 B. O’Ryan, 5 N. Ashcroft, 4 M. Garrod, 3 A. Lewis, 2. A. Loney, 1 B. Rodd.
Replacements: C. Ford, B. Gregory, C. Crampton, C. Briers, L. Botha
Tynedale: 15 B. Beaumont, 14 M. Passman, 13 L. Checksfield, 12 W. Miller, 11. G. Pike, 10 B. Hutton, 9. M. Outson, 8 B. Bell, 7 J. Richards, 6 J. Cousin, 5 H. Snowdon, 4 G. Dunn, 3 L. Carmichael, 2 G. Black, 1 R. Elliott
Replacements: D. Batey, M. Hughes, W. Montgomery, T. Marshall, C. Nordli-Kelemeti.
Photos below by Chris Farrow