Fylde 5 Ampthill & District 26
Fylde slipped to another home defeat in a disappointing performance against Ampthill & District. The visitors, 3rd placed in National One, did what they needed to do, exploiting Fylde weaknesses and, in effect, securing the win through their 1st half performance. A late spell of Fylde pressure hinted at what might have been.
Ampthill took the game by the scruff of the neck early on. They dominated possession and pushed Fylde well back in their own half. The pressure told in the 9th minute when, after a number of phases driven by the Ampthill forwards, fly-half Josh Sharp skipped through some ineffective tackling to score near the posts. Fullback James Pritchard converted for 0-7 lead.
Fylde made occasional inroads into Ampthill’s half but these were characterised by knock-ons, turnovers or conceded penalties. By the beginning of the second quarter the visitors were back in Fylde’s half. Scrummages were becoming a pressing problem for the home side as referee Leahy adjudged one after another as illegal. The penalties mounted up and in the 22nd minute from a driving maul near the Fylde line, Ampthill flanker Joe Bercis claimed the touchdown. Pritchard converted to double his team’s lead.
Fylde battled back, led by the ever eager no 8 David Fairbrother, but without being convincing. In the 35th minute they were back defending their line grimly after coughing up possession on halfway. This time, referee Leahy not only awarded a penalty 5m out but sent lock Matt Garrod to the sin bin for an infringement at a ruck. From the ensuing line-out and driving maul against the 14 men, top try scorer Sam Baker plunged over from close range. James Pritchard once again converted the try for a 0-21 lead at the interval.
Fylde introduced replacement lock Nick Ashcroft into the fray in place of Ben Vernon at the start of the 2nd half whilst Ampthill were confident enough to replace prop Garside and no 8 Molitika with Collins and Blackmore. As Fylde’s scrummage was again under pressure near their line in the 48th minute, Adam Lewis replaced Mark Irving. Two collapsed scrums later and Lewis was trotting back to the sin bin thanks to Mr Leahy. Once more with the man advantage, the Ampthill pack set up the driving maul and Syd Blackmore claimed the touchdown and the bonus point. This time, Pritchard’s kick went wide but a 0-26 lead was always likely to be conclusive.
Fylde stepped up their efforts and started for the first time to exert sustained pressure inside the Ampthill half and to take control. Fylde winger Henry Hadfield had a couple of bullocking runs without being able to penetrate a determined Ampthill defence. Then Tom Carleton and Connor Wilkinson combined well down the left flank to threaten the visitors’ line. The move was stopped illegally and James Pritchard was shown a yellow card.
Fylde continued to press as they tried to exploit their numerical advantage. A grubber kick from fly-half Greg Smith behind the Ampthill defence just eluded Connor Wilkinson in the in-goal area. Another penalty was conceded by the visitors and from the kick to the corner and subsequent line-out it was Fylde’s turn to drive over for replacement hooker Ben Gregory to get the touchdown. Smith hastily attempted the conversion but it was wide.
Fylde continued to attack but it was to prove too little, too late, to have any serious impact on the final result.
Fylde Head Coach Warren Spragg said: “If you concede as many penalties as we did in the 1st half against Ampthill then the result will be entirely predictable. It’s all very well upping our game in the last fifteen minutes but our discipline has to be better overall. Our defence was generally good but we made too many mistakes.”
15 Alex Dolly; 14 Henry Hadfield, 13 Connor Wilkinson, 12 Luke Fowden, 11 Tom Carleton; 10 Greg Smith, 9 Greg Nicholls (Jake Foster 74); 1 Dan Richardson, 2 Tom Burtonwood (Ben Gregory 70), 3 Mark Irving (Adam Lewis 41), 4 Matt Garrod, 5 Harlan Corrie, 6 Ben Vernon (Nick Ashcroft 41), 7 Will Hopwood, 8 David Fairbrother.
Non-playing replacement: Olli Parkinson.