Caldy 37-19 Fylde
Caldy were deserved victors in this North West derby against Fylde. They led from the 1st minute and only for a period in the 2nd half did they look like giving up the lead. Fylde were rocked by an express start by the Cheshire club and their cause was not helped by losing both lock forward Harlan Corrie and skipper Greg Nicholls, the latter to what looked like a serious leg injury, in the first 13 minutes.
It was a sunny though breezy day at the beautiful Paton Field. This is certainly not the most protected ground in National One in mid-winter but in early September it is a delightful venue. Caldy attacked from the kick-off and impressive fly-half Rhys Hayes found space through some weak tackling to stride over for a 1st minute try. Winger Ben Jones converted easily for a 7-0 lead.
The home side did all the early pressing and in the 7th minute a Fylde defender offended 30m out and Jones converted to extend the lead. Fylde came back strongly and their backline started to ask serious questions of the Caldy defence. No 8 David Fairbrother was warming to his task and broke tackles on the left hand side in midfield. Hooker Tom Burtonwood set off downfield and linked with winger Tom Carleton who raced clear down the touchline. He was almost caught by the covering defenders but made the line to get the touchdown in the corner. Greg Smith converted beautifully from the touchline to reduce the deficit to 10-7.
Lock Harlan Corrie injured his hip in the move and was replaced by Sale Sharks dual registered debutant Matt Postlethwaite. A couple minutes later Greg Nicholls went down and was carried off by team mates. Tom Carleton, who had never played a senior game in the position, switched to scrum-half and Henry Hadfield replaced him on the wing.
Caldy dominated most of the rest of the half. They extended their lead with another penalty by Jones in the 16th minute before influential centre Gavin Roberts scored a neat try down the Caldy left. This was extended in the 24th minute when, from another penalty conceded by Fylde, the ball was kicked to the corner. The Caldy pack set up a driving maul and it rumbled over the line with no 8 JJ Dickenson the last man up. Ben Jones converted for a dominating 25-7 lead.
The scrummages were pretty even although Caldy were dominant in the line-outs. They also secured a number of turnovers at the breakdown as well as exploiting some weak Fylde tackling throughout.
But Fylde had the final say in the 1st half when another powerful Fairbrother drive in the 36th minute set up a break down the left. It was carried to near the line before Connor Wilkinson picked up and drove over for the try. Greg Smith was unable to add the extras but Fylde were rather closer at 12-25 down at the interval.
After a tight and inconclusive midfield battle in the first 20 minutes of the 2nd period, Fylde enjoyed their best spell of the game. Once again it was the Fairbrother/Carleton combination that put their side right back into contention. Fairbrother broke on the halfway line smashing his way past a couple of tacklers before offloading to the fast supporting Carleton who burst 30m to score under the posts. The 19 year old was looking extraordinarily confident in his first ever appearance at scrum-half. Smith converted and Fylde were within a converted try of catching Caldy.
The visitors had the bit between their teeth now and were soon pressing again deep in the Caldy half. In the 68th minute they mauled their way up to the try line. This was a crucial moment as the looked odds on to score. But the ball was turned over and winger Nick Royle kicked long downfield. As they tried to run the ball back, Fylde were penalised at the breakdown. From the ensuing pressure the fluent Caldy backs moved the ball left and Gavin Roberts broke the defensive line to score neatly near the posts. Jones converted to extend his side’s lead.
Caldy now had control and in the 77th minute Rhys Hayes kicked accurately for the left corner where it was athletically caught by winger Ben Jones who touched down in the corner for a personal haul of 17 points.
This was a disappointing result for Fylde but an entirely deserved victory for Caldy who scooped a maximum five points. It will be a busy week for the Club’s medical team as the injury list lengthens after each game and they prepare for the first ever visit of Old Elthamians to the Woodlands next Saturday (ko 3pm).
Fylde: Brookes; Carleton, Briers, Wilkinson, Grimes; Smith, Nicholls (Hadfield 13); Lewis, Burtonwood (Harrison 76), Irving (Pope 51), Ashcroft, Corrie (Postlethwaite 11-62, McCarthy 62), Vernon, Harrison (Langdon 51), Fairbrother.