Loughborough Students 21-0 Fylde [photo above courtesy of Loughborough Students RFC]
Fylde’s fortunes at Loughborough Students’ ground in recent seasons continued much as before in what turned out to be their fifth successive defeat there. In a very even 1st half it looked as though the Lancastrians could well overcome a fit and determined Students squad. The 2nd half was a different story as the home side dominated possession and territory. It was particularly disappointing to be ‘nilled’ and not for the first time this season.
Fylde started very strongly and dominated the early exchanges. They pressed deep inside the Students’ half but the home defence was resolute. The Fylde pack shaded the scrummage battle and pressurised the Students generally in the tight exchanges. The home team’s gritty work at the breakdown, especially through their no 8 Suvwe Obano, earned them turnover ball. Much of the action was played out between the two 22m lines, to and fro. The Fylde defence was excellent throughout even if their attacking was sometimes rather too lateral.
The deadlock was broken in the 38th minute when a Fylde player offended and Loughborough fullback Will Kaye opened the scoring with a penalty kick and a 3-0 lead. Immediately Fylde responded and camped in injury time near the Students’ line. After a series of penalties to Fylde, Loughborough prop Jarod Leat was sinbinned. Somehow, the Students managed to hang on and take the most slender of leads into the break. Fylde would have been very disappointed that they hadn’t used their superiority to build some kind of lead.
Although they still had a man advantage for the opening minutes of the 2nd half, Fylde were unable to exploit this. In the 47th minute Kaye kicked his second penalty to double the lead. Back to 15 players, Loughborough gradually took control of the match and tightened the screw. In the 60th minute Kaye converted his 3rd penalty but the crucial score came immediately after the restart as the visitors began to chase the game. Fylde launched their backline but Students’ winger Jack Stapley read one of the passes, intercepted and scooted through for the touchdown. The conversion was missed but Loughborough had built a 14-0 lead.
By this time, an ever more desperate Fylde were really under the cosh. The coup de grâce was applied in the 67th minute. The Loughborough pack set up a maul near the Fylde line and drove forward. It collapsed and referee Dan Parrott awarded a penalty try. Misery on misery, visiting flanker Will Hopwood was despatched to the sin bin.
Even 21-0 down, the Fylde players didn’t let their heads drop. They had a final few minutes of pressure near the Students’ line but were unable to put their first points on the scoreboard before the final whistle was blown. Loughborough gathered a useful four points from the game whilst Fylde had to travel back to Lancashire empty handed.
Fylde Head Coach Warren Spragg said: “We should have come away with something. The momentum shift was at the end of the first half when we had continuous scrum penalties 10m from their line. The referee gave a yellow card to their prop and we lost the opportunity to scrum for a penalty try. I’d have preferred the prop to stay on and get 7 points from scoring! Loughborough built a score early in the second half and we were nervy when trying to play catch up.
“On an individual level, we put in some solid performances and our defence was rock solid once again. Loughborough only scored from an interception and a penalty try but didn’t break us down in open play which I am pleased about.
“We’re at the halfway point in the season and bottom of the league. We’ll need to perform like a top six team for the 2nd half of the season to get ourselves out of our current situation and stay in this league.
“Caldy will come into the game next Saturday in the North West pre-Christmas battle on a high with a couple of great wins in recent weeks and it should be something that players and supporters from both clubs are looking forward to. For us it’s an opportunity to finish the year on a high and prove to the Fylde public that there is still a lot of life left in this long season!”
FYLDE: 15 Tom Carleton; 14 Henry Hadfield, 13 Connor Wilkinson, 12 Luke Fowden (Greg Smith 60), 11 Tom Grimes; 10 Alex Dolly, 9 Greg Nicholls; 1 Dan Richardson, 2 Tom Burtonwood (Ben Gregory 52), 3 Adam Lewis (Mark Irving 67), 4 Matt Garrod (Nick Ashcroft 67), 5 Olli Parkinson, 6 Ben Vernon (Harlan Corrie 55), 7 Will Hopwood, 8 David Fairbrother.