The Classic Nip and Tuck Affair: Vandals v Blackburn 3rds

Fylde Vandals 10 Blackburn 3’s 13

Blackburn 3’s were the Vandals’ end of year visitors on Saturday. The EPD had put together a decent squad of 20 for this middle of the table clash with the Vandals and Blackburn in 6th and 8th positions respectively. The weather was ok and the scene was set for what looked to be, on paper at least, a fairly even affair.

This actually turned out to be the case as both teams had good packs and decent backs. The Vandals started the stronger though using their trademark rolling maul to good effect more than once. Blackburn woke from their slumbers and managed to get a foothold in the game using their mobile backrow and hefty front five. They scored the first try of the day as their pacey openside broke through both Swindells senior and Swindells junior’s attempted tackles and went over to the left of the posts. The Vandals managed to work their way into the Blackburn 22 and from the defending team’s lineout Alex Grey gathered an overthrown ball and went over the line unopposed.

There was a good ebb and flow to the game with both teams nullifying each other in defence and attack. However neither team could convert any further pressure into points and the half finished a try a piece.

In the second half the game continued in the same vain but Blackburn opened up a 5 point lead with their second try of the day. The Vandals were perhaps guilty of sending the ball wide too early and tried to get back to what they do best with the forwards driving the team forward. They managed to do this nicely and evened up the game from a lineout. The ball was taken athletically by Ben James and the maul was set. The drive was perfect until it slowed up just before the line. Cecil Holland and Phil Swindells joined the big boys and using their combined 24 stone were integral in inching the ball over the line for the skipper Richard Mason to score, although Tom Godfrey did his utmost to try and claim it from him.

With the score 10 all, time was running out for either team to settle the game but unfortunately the home team gifted the visitors a chance of three points as they were penalised about 25 m out from the posts. The Blackburn flyhalf/skipper duly stepped up and kicked his team to victory, 10- 13.

Congratulations to Blackburn on their victory and their reward was to jump up to 4th in the league. All the best to them for the rest of the league campaign. Huge thanks go to the Vandals players for their continued commitment and efforts with a massive mention in dispatches for Damian King and Gary Andrews who continually put themselves out of their comfort zones in the front row. Thanks also to our trusty band of loyal supporters who turn out rain, wind or shine.

Well that was 2017 for the Vandals with their next game a tough one at league leaders Leyland Warriors on January 6th. All the best to everyone, I hope you all have a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Click here for Jack Jones’ photos.

The team was – Tim Barrett, Chris Cardwell, Damian King, Richard Todd, Adey Grey, Alex Grey,  Richard Mason (c), Ben James, Phil Swindells, Sean Whiteside, Cecil Holland, Gary Andrews, Pete Acton, Sean Townsend, Frazer Swindells, Tony Rawlinson, Max Barrett, Mike Hewitson, Tom Godfrey, Jon Whitby

Playing EPD – Sean Townsend

Report – Phil Swindells    Photos – Jack Jones