Thornton Cleveleys 2nds 19 Fylde Vandals 20

Conditions were a thousand times better at Thornton YMCA for this year’s most local of local derbys between Fylde Vandals and Thornton Cleveleys 2nds. The game last year was abandoned at half time due to some end of the world rain that made the pitch unplayable but the sun was shining and the turf was in tip top condition. The Vandals had a squad of 17 this week with some injuries and unavailabilities restricting the EPD’s choices. Nevertheless it was strong squad of 17 and there was to be Vandals debut for Jack Worsley who was following the family tradition in pulling on the famous Vandals shirt.

The Vandals started brightly and with some good possession and territory applied the pressure on T/C. However they were guilty of rushing things at the critical moment and a few mistakes were made allowing T/C to clear the ball and work their way into the Vandals half. Consequently the home side were the first to score and this was totally against the run of play.

There was a strong wind blowing across the pitch and Paul Green made good use of it kicking the ball from hand well into T/C’s red zone. The Vandals drew level from an ensuing lineout, the ball was won well and recycled nicely. The backs spread it to Paul Green who swatted off a couple of T/C defenders and cantered into the corner. T/C grabbed the next score and it was gifted to them really. Their tricky inside centre was quickly onto a loose pass, he dribbled the ball over the try line and dropped on it for the score.

The first half ended with T/C in the lead 14-5 but both their scores were from Vandals mistakes so during the break the skippers chat was again about cutting out the mistakes and playing sensible rugby in the right areas.

The Vandals quickly cut the deficit to 4 points with the try scoring machine that is Ali Atkinson dropping over the line for the score. It was nip and tuck stuff for a while with both teams countering each other but the Vandals were soon on the backfoot when they were reduced to 14 after Paul Green saw yellow. T/C took their chance well using the quickish backs and extra man to score out wide.

The Vandals now needed to score twice and soon reverted to type with some tremendous rolling mauls which T/C couldn’t handle. Young Matty Clayton was having a fine game and thoroughly deserved his try from one of these mauls. T/C gave away a couple of crucial penalties and the Vandals again worked their way into T/C’s 22. The skipper Ben James picked up from the base of a scrum and ran a great line crashing over in the corner for the one point lead. The drama wasn’t over yet and T/C were awarded a penalty just outside the Vandals 22m. The T/C kicker who had done well from the tee took his time but unfortunately for them he put it to the left of the posts and the game was done with the score 19-20 to the Vandals. For the Fylde boys this was their second very close game in 2 weeks but as the title suggests….just one point, that’s all it takes!

This was a great team effort, coming back from a couple of scores down. Ali Atkinson continued his fine form, Matty Clayton had a great game and the debutant Jack Worsley was tremendous all over the park. He took the first three scrums against the head and was ever willing with ball in hand, nice one Jack.

It’s always good to visit our near neighbours so thanks very much to T/C for the game and their hospitality afterwards. We will see you at the Woodlands mid-February. Thanks to all who made the short trip to watch the boys and finally thanks to the boys themselves for their awesome efforts on the day. Next week we head north and visit Powderhouse Lane to take on Vale of Lune 4ths so see you all up there

Click here for Sarah’s photographs.

The team was – Damian King, Jack Worsley, Matty Clayton, Ben James (c), Ali Atkinson, Rob King, Jack King, Dave Porter, Ethan Harvey, Phil Swindells, Cecil Holland, Gary Andrews, Paul Green, Tony Rawlinson, Chris Travis, Hakan Ilhan, Sean Townsend

EPD – Sean Townsend

H2O Operative – Tom Godfrey

Report – Phil Swindells

Photos – Sarah Swindells