Rosslyn Park 31 Fylde 15
Fylde suffered their eighth defeat of the season away from the Woodlands when they went down to Rosslyn Park at the Rock. This isn’t Fylde’s favourite ground as they have lost their last five matches there. However, they put in a gritty performance, were in touch at just 7-17 in arrears at halftime but conceded two 2nd half tries which assured the home victory. Fylde received noisy, encouraging support from a group of former 1st team players who made their annual trip to London for the game.
Once again, Fylde found themselves behind early in the game. In the 9th minute Park’s winger Benjie Marfo sneaked into the corner after a quick tap from just inside Fylde’s 22. Centre Harry Leonard’s attempted conversion drifted wide. Fylde eased their way into the match as they fought hard for territory and possession. However, they conceded a penalty in the 20th minute and Leonard kicked for the corner. Concerted forward pressure from the home side led eventually to flanker Arthur Ellis forcing his way over to claim the try. Leonard added the extras to give his team a 12-0 advantage.
Fylde came back strongly from the re-start. It was their turn to pressurise the Park line and, from a lineout 5m out no 8 David Fairbrother drove over for the try. Greg Smith converted well to reduce the deficit to 12-7.
In the 30th minute a case of ‘handbags’ in midfield led to a Fylde penalty. Greg Smith went for goal but was unable to narrow the scores even more.
As so often, Fylde were again vulnerable as the half-time whistle approached. Park earned a penalty, kicked for touch and from the ensuing driving maul tighthead prop Nick Lovell forced his way over the line. The gloomy, damp conditions made goal kicking rather difficult, even on the 3G artificial pitch. Leonard missed the conversion but Park had a useful 17-7 lead at the break.
Fylde hit back early in the 2nd half when they earned a penalty in front of the posts and Greg Smith reduced the deficit to within a converted try difference at 17-10. As both sides struggled for dominance, it seemed as though the next score might be crucial and it was Rosslyn Park who claimed it. Park camped inside the Fylde 22m line and in the 56th minute fly-half Oli Grove powered over for a smartly taken bonus point try. Leonard kicked the conversion and Park began to stretch away at 24-10 up.
Less than 10 minutes later, they added to their lead when replacement hooker Owen Hughes was at the back of another driving maul to get the touchdown. Leonard kicked another conversion for a 31-10 lead.
But Fylde were not finished and showed the guts, even in adversity, that they have displayed throughout the season. Park’s replacement prop Stewart Maguire was adjudged to have made a high tackle in the 70th minute and was sinbinned for his trouble. Fylde attacked immediately and winger Tom Carleton raced away past a startled Park defence to score one of his typical tries out wide. Greg Smith’s attempted conversion drifted wide but the deficit had been reduced to 31-15.
Park attacked once more in the final 10 minutes but an obdurate Fylde defence kept them out as the final whistle was blown.
Fylde’s Alex Loney, who led the coaching on the day, said: “We were happy with how the boys prepared leading up to this game and we were confident of putting in a decent performance. In many ways, we did! However, I felt we could have won more collisions between the 22s and some key moments probably swung the momentum of the game. Overall, Rosslyn Park deserved their victory. Looking ahead, the whole squad feel energised for a tough home game against Ampthill. A final word on the travelling support from former players. They were vocal, supportive and a pleasure to have with us.”
Warren Spragg, who missed the game due to Sale Sharks commitments, said: “Although the last few weeks have been frustrating with being at Academy Under 18 matches, it has been a great opportunity for Alex and Dan to step up and gain experience of leading the team on match day.
“Whilst the short term results haven’t gone our way, I am pleased with how we are developing as a coaching team and with the way they have handled the responsibility. There are a limited number of coaches with this type of experience in the North West and it is important that the club continues to develop from within on a coaching front as well as with our players.”