Fylde had won on their last two visits to Brantingham Park against Hull Ionians. They went looking for their third victory with a spirited display on a breezy Autumn day before eventually going down by 33-14.
Once again, the visitors found themselves significantly in arrears early on, 18-0 down after 37 minutes. They came back strongly to reduce the deficit to four points before Ionians’ pragmatic tactics won the day with two tries in the last ten minutes.
Ionians started the game with intensity and scrum-half Isaac Green exploited penalty opportunities in the 2nd and 12th minutes to kick his side into a 6-0 lead. Three minutes later he had an opportunity to extend this with another kickable penalty chance but this time put it wide.
The next 15 minutes was evenly contested before, in the 32nd minute, Ionians extended their lead when centre Joe Allott benefitted from a fortunate bounce to score his side’s first try. Green added the extra points for a 13-0 lead. In the 36th minute they followed this up when wing Tom Rees scored a fine individual try. Green missed the conversion but his side had a decisive 18-0 lead.
It looked as though Fylde would end the half without scoring after being ‘nilled’ last week against Coventry. However, late pressure by the Lancastrians resulted in no 8 Dave Fairbrother driving over for a good try. Fly-half Greg Smith kicked the conversion and at the half-time whistle Ionians led by 18-7.
Nine minutes into the 2nd half and Fylde were right back in the contest when wing Tom Grimes scored a neat try, with Smith adding the extras to reduce the deficit to 18-14.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Ionians achieved the decisive score when scrum-half Green slipped over for a try following a driving lineout. He was unable to add the conversion from wide out.
Fylde brought on front rows Adam Joyner and Tom Burtonwood to replace Mark Irving and Ben Gregory. As the pressure on the visitors increased, wing Henry Hadfield was sinbinned in the 69th minute. From the subsequent penalty Ionians kicked for the corner. They used their extra man to advantage and flanker James Sanderson was smuggled over from the driving maul. Green missed the kick but a 28-14 lead put them in the clear.
Fylde heads didn’t drop and they continued to play their attacking game. As they pressed they left themselves exposed and replacement Ben Bell drove over from close range for a rather flattering 33-14 win.
Fylde remain at the bottom of National One as a consequence of their seventh defeat of the season.
Head Coach Warren Spragg said: “We can’t shy away from the fact that yesterday’s game was winnable. But to win games we need to get our basics right. We lost two attacking lineouts due to poor calls, and conceded a scrum penalty on their 5 metre line when we should have come away with points. These are pivotal moments in a game when you need to be increasing pressure on the opposition and we are letting them off.
“My challenge to the players is to increase the pressure we put ourselves under in training and to create an atmosphere which is more intense than a match day situation. When we can get that right we will start to consistently produce the quality of Rugby that is currently only being seen in short bursts.”