Fylde sink in Coventry mud

Coventry 47 Fylde 3

For 50 or so minutes, Fylde caused league leaders Coventry all kinds of problems at the Butts Park Arena. The visitors were totally committed and matched their illustrious hosts on a gluepot of a pitch with an excellent crowd of 1350 in attendance in miserable conditions. Fylde defended their line bravely and attacked dangerously when they had the opportunity. Their cause was ultimately undermined by three sinbinnings, going down to 13 players at a crucial time at the start of the fourth quarter. Coventry steamrollered the Lancastrians from then on and scored five tries from the 63rd minute onwards for a 47-3 final score.  

The game started with both teams battling it out for control on the very muddy surface. Although separated by the whole of National One, Fylde belied their status as they competed fiercely for possession and territory against the putative champions. 

At the end of the first quarter, Cov pinned Fylde back in their own 22m area. A series of scrummages collapsed and in the 18th minute referee Callum Sharp awarded a penalty try for a 7-0 lead. Once again, play was pretty even for the next 15 minutes before, in a period of Fylde possession in the Coventry half, they earned a penalty. Greg Smith converted it well and reduced the deficit to 7-3. 

This spurred Coventry to raise their game and they were soon back close to the Fylde line. Another scrum collapsed and a 2nd penalty try was awarded. Worse still, hooker Ben Godfrey was shown a yellow card. Although Coventry had a 14-3 lead at the interval, Fylde were still in contention. 

The opening period of the 2nd half was equally well contested by the underdogs with Gregory back in the action. The game turned on a sequence of events beginning in the 60th minute. Replacement lock Nick Ashcroft entered the fray with Fylde once again defending their own line. Two minutes later referee Sharp decided that Fylde had once more offended and awarded the third penalty try, with Ashcroft adjudged to be the sacrificial lamb for the second yellow card.  

Even worse was to follow a couple of minutes later when Fylde winger Henry Hadfield was also sinbinned and the Lancastrians were down to 13 players. Coventry exploited this advantage remorselessly when replacement hooker Nilsen was driven over from close range. Fly-half Maisey converted for a 28-3 lead. 

The floodgates opened and the league leaders extended their lead with tries by fullback Tom Emery (71st minute), lock George Oram (75th) and a seventh and final effort by replacement Patrick Ryan (79th minute) to round off the scoring.        

Fylde Head Coach Warren Spragg said: “We went with a plan about how to put Coventry under pressure and for 50 minutes we had them rattled. Losing three players to the sin bin opened up some space in our defence that wasn’t there when we had 15 players on the pitch. Being a good team Coventry punished us. 

“We weren’t helped by the yellow cards and 3 penalty tries, and that is even harder to stomach when the home side’s director of rugby was talking the officials through the whole thing at the side of the pitch, 50 metres away from the technical area. We are all supposed to stay in this area during the game. We’ve played Coventry twice this season and the behaviour of some of their staff has been appalling on both occasions. I wish them all the best for the rest of the season and I’m sure they will be promoted with a few games to spare, but it would be nice to see them upholding the core values of the game at the same time.” 

Taken from official match data sheet: 

FYLDE: 15 Carleton; 14 Hadfield, 13 Wilkinson, 12 Fowden, 11 Bailey; 10 Smith, 9 Dolly; 1 Irving (Richardson 40), 2 Gregory (Burtonwood 40-60, Ashcroft 60), 3 Lewis, 4 Garrod, 5 Parkinson, 6 Corrie, 7 Hopwood, 8 Fairbrother. 

Non-playing replacements: Foster and Nicholls.