Fylde fall just short in brave display against Birmingham Moseley

Fylde 22 Birmingham Moseley 26

Although it was another defeat, this was a hard working Fylde performance against Birmingham Moseley which could have led to a different result. The visitors used their big pack to batter the Fylde defence, especially in the 1st half. Attractive it was not but very effective in securing a bonus point win for Moseley who moved up to 8th place in National One as a consequence. A late spell of Fylde pressure so easily could have led to a home win.

Birmingham Moseley imposed their physical superiority on the game from the start. All afternoon, much of their possession and dominance revolved around skipper and lock Buster Lawrence. He was everywhere, securing clean ball in the lineout, driving forward the highly effective and well used mauls and carrying ball in midfield often as second or third receiver. The Fylde defence was heroic and they missed few tackles throughout the game. But they struggled to win a decent share of possession and were hampered by a string of penalty decisions going against them.

But it was Fylde who opened the scoring with an excellent try in the 8th minute. The ball was worked left from midfield left down the blindside. The ball reached winger Tom Grimes who sidestepped a defender and raced clear along the touchline to score in the corner. The Preston-born player who joined from Blaydon is comfortable at fullback and centre as well as out wide and is proving one of the real successes of the summer signings. Fly-half Greg Smith was unable to convert the try from the touchline.

Moseley were soon exploiting their physical advantage as they pressed Fylde back inside their 22m line. The penalties against the home side started to mount and the kicks to the corner and subsequent driving mauls took their toll. In the 16th minute, veteran hooker Adam Caves was the last man up from a rolling maul. Fly-half James Dixon added the conversion.

Eight minutes later it was more of the same, this time with Lawrence battering his way over from close range. Dixon missed the kick but his side had a 5-12 lead.

Fylde found it hard to mount any sustained attacks inside the Moseley half. One breakout looked like resulting in a certain try as four Fylde players faced one defender with a loose ball and the line at their mercy. Rather than picking the ball up it was grubber kicked over the Moseley line and the last defender managed to reach it ahead of the chasers. Gradually, Fylde were gaining a measure of possession and took due advantage of it on the half-hour. The Fylde forwards secured the ball at a ruck and lock Harlan Corrie picked up and burst 30m through a faltering visiting defence to score his first try for the Club under the posts in only his second start after an injury disrupted couple of months. The powerful Cumbrian had an excellent game and looks quite at home in National One after stepping up several levels from Penrith. Smith levelled the scores with the conversion.

Fylde invariably look vulnerable just after scoring and so it proved once again. From yet another penalty, Moseley went route one and from yet another driving maul Adam Caves claimed his second try. The hooker has notched up almost 350 appearances for ‘Mose’ and looked as keen as ever in his 14th season of National League and Championship rugby. James Dixon converted the try and his side trooped off to the changing rooms at the interval with a 12-19 lead. On the basis of territory and possession, if not open attacking rugby, this was a deserved advantage.

The 2nd half was more balanced as the home side played towards their favourite Clubhouse end. The Fylde pack stepped up their efforts and secured more possession as well as tackling like demons. In the 44th minute, a Moseley player offended and Greg Smith kicked the subsequent penalty to reduce the deficit to four points.

The Fylde backs looked much more dangerous with limited opportunities than their opponents. In the 51st minute centre on halfway Connor Wilkinson gave a delightful short pass to his partner Chris Briers whose clever running line saw him accelerate through a gap in the Midlanders’ defence. He raced 50m to score under the posts to the delight of the crowd in front of the Clubhouse. Smith added the extras and Fylde had a 22-19 lead.

Moseley brought on four replacement forwards and for the first time the home pack rather struggled in the scrummages. The newcomers injected extra dynamism in the visitors play and they forced Fylde back towards their line. The home side conceded a number of penalties and in the 66th minute referee Ben Davies awarded a penalty try with the resulting score of 22-26.

Tom Burtonwood, Matt Garrod and Mark Irving came off the replacements bench and joined the fray as Fylde tried to engineer the crucial score in the final minutes. It was Moseley’s turn to concede penalties as Fylde poured forward. They were unable to emulate their opponents driving maul tries although they had a few attempts to do so.

In the last minute the Fylde backs attacked down their left and Tom Grimes looked to have a chance to win the game as he broke along the touchline once again. He appeared to lose his footing and a defender closed him down. From the ensuing ruck, a Fylde player was harshly adjudged to have killed the ball and the subsequent penalty finished the game.

This was a much improved performance from a developing Fylde squad. Birmingham Moseley were a decent side with a big and dominating pack. But the result could easily have been different in an even and well contested 2nd half. A single losing bonus point was a poor return for such a spirited and committed display by the home side.

Click here for Chris Farrow’s excellent action photographs.

FYLDE: 15 Tom Carleton; 14 George Brookes, 13 Chris Briers, 12 Connor Wilkinson, 11 Tom Grimes; 10 Greg Smith, 9 Alex Dolly; 1 Jake Pope, 2 Ben Gregory (Tom Burtonwood 68), 3 Adam Lewis (Mark Irving 72), 4 Nick Ashcroft (Matt Garrod 69), 5 Harlan Corrie, 6 Ben Vernon, 7 Toby Harrison, 8 David Fairbrother.

Non-playing replacements: Danny Carlton & Luke Fowden.

BIRMINGHAM MOSELEY: 15 Sam Pointon; 14 Mark Harrison, 13 Tim Molenaar, 12 Ollie Allsopp, 11 Joshua Jarvis; 10 James Dixon (Andrew Fluker 68), 9 Rob Lewis; 1 Jonah Boyce (Tom Fidler 58), 2 Adam Caves (Ryan Roach 55), 3 James Tideswell (Jonah Boyce 78), 4 Buster Lawrence, 5 Lewis Bean (Aaron Crofts 55), 6 Jacques Le Roux (Ciaran Moore 58), 7 Joshua Poole, 8 Chris Brightwell.