Fylde suffered their fourth successive defeat when they lost 55-10 on their first ever visit to Old Elthamians’ well appointed though sparsely attended College Meadow ground. They were competitive for 60 minutes but tired against a rampant home side and conceded four late tries to give the scoreboard a very unflattering look as the final whistle blew.
The match started promisingly for the Lancastrians. Often their performances away from the Woodlands have started slowly, they’ve conceded early tries and have had to chase the game thereafter. An early OE attack was thwarted and Fylde took play deep in the home side’s half. A sniping run by fly-half Alex Dolly took him over the try line but he was held up by the OE defence. The subsequent Fylde scrummages were excellent and they forced successive penalties near the line. Flanker Ben Vernon picked up and drove over the line powerfully for his first try of the season in the 9th minute. Alex Dolly was unable to add the conversion.
Vernon had been named amongst the replacements but young Sale Sharks backrower Sam Moore, who was due to make his debut for the Club, suffered an allergic reaction on Friday evening and was admitted to hospital. So Vernon stepped in and Harlan Corrie joined the replacements.
Within four minutes OE were level following a driving maul which ended with the ball being shipped right to leading try scorer, winger Dom Lespierre who squeezed in at the corner. Replacement OE fly-half Joe Carlisle’s attempted conversion drifted wide so the scores were level at 5-all.
Fylde also suffered an injury blow when winger George Brookes limped off with a recurrence of a hamstring strain. He was replaced by Greg Smith who went to fly-half and this required a re-arrangement of their backline.
In the 20th minute Fylde were back inside their own 22m line when an attempted clearance kick was charged down and OE flanker Hamish Barton reached the loose ball first to score. Carlisle added the extras for a 12-5 advantage.
The home pack began to flex their muscles and press Fylde into defensive mode. Referee Alexander Thomas punished Fylde heavily throughout the game and from an offence in the 25th minute Joe Carlisle kicked the subsequent penalty to stretch the lead to 15-5.
From another penalty in midfield in the 28th minute, Carlisle kicked for the corner. The subsequent driven maul featured prop Lewis Brown who was tackled short of the line only for scrum-half Tom Parker to dummy a defender and stretch over for the touchdown. The conversion was missed.
Fylde came back strongly in the 31st minute. An excellent break forward by no 8 David Fairbrother shredded the OE defence and centre Connor Wilkinson was on hand to finish off the move with a strong run down the left. Dolly’s attempted conversion again was off target but Fylde were very much back in the game at 20-10 down. Both teams were looking to attack and it was leading to an exciting end to end contest at this stage.
Before Fylde could consolidate this score, they went further behind a couple of minutes later. With OEs in possession, fly-half Carlisle chipped over the visitors’ defensive line, collected the ball himself and put lock forward Ian Kench in the clear to score under the posts. Carlisle kicked the conversion for a 27-10 lead at the interval.
This was a hammer blow to Fylde hopes but they came out in a positive frame of mind for the 2nd half. During the third quarter they had more than their share of possession and territory as they tried to break down the Old Elthamians defence. A fine break by centre Luke Fowden looked like it might lead to another score for the visitors but OE regained possession and cleared the danger.
The Fylde scrummage, in particular, caused all kinds of problems for the home side. With the experience of prop Adam Lewis, the energy of hooker Curtis Langdon and the power of Dan Richardson, this looks an important weapon for the Woodlands team to build on. Richardson’s progress in recent games has been particularly noteworthy.
But it was OE who were to dominate the last 20 minutes. In the 60th minute, the coup de gras was applied when from yet another conceded penalty, Carlisle kicked for the corner. The same formula was again effective as Fylde were unable to stop the ensuing driving maul as replacement hooker Nathan Morris emerged from under a pile of bodies to claim the try. It was converted for a 34-10 lead.
Four minutes later the agony for Fylde continued. A break by scrum-half Parker created the danger and prop Alex Brown scooped up the loose ball to score. In the 66th minute, with Fylde again defending their own line, David Fairbrother was sinbinned for a technical offence. Three minutes later a pre-planned move in midfield resulted in flanker Barton racing through the middle to score his 2nd try. Carlisle’s conversion made the score 48-10.
The final minute saw Fylde attack through their backs but Lespierre read the pass, intercepted and raced clear to complete his brace of tries and a final score of 55-10 to Old Elthamians.
Fylde Head Coach Warren Spragg said: “I was disappointed that we couldn’t build on a really strong start and ended up compounding too many errors to be truly competitive. Our scrum was dominant but didn’t get the reward we deserved, and apart from that OEs outplayed us in every department. Plymouth Albion will be strong next week and we will need to match their physicality and be at the top of our game in all areas to get a result.”
FYLDE: 15 Carleton; 14 Brookes (Smith 14 mins), 13 Wilkinson, 12 Fowles, 11 Odogwu; 10 Dolly, 9 Nicholls ©; 1 Richardson (Irving 65), 2 Langdon (Burtonwood 62), 3 Lewis, 4 Postlethwaite, 5 Parkinson (Garrod 52), 6 Vernon, 7 Hopwood (Corrie 62), 8 Fairbrother.