Fylde 50 Tynedale 10
Fylde rediscovered their free scoring form of earlier in the season by romping home against a game Tynedale squad at the Woodlands completing a rare double over the North Easterners in the process. One explanation of the rather up and down recent performances is clearly the state of mid-winter pitches. This game was played on a good surface despite the heavy rain during the last week. Fylde are a ‘top of the ground’ side and benefit from conditions which encourage expansive, running rugby.
Mindful of the physical toll on the part-time players during a very long 30 game season, Head Coach Warren Spragg is managing the problem by giving game time to as many 1st XV squad players as possible. 20 year old prop forward Matt Ashcroft, nominated this week as skipper of the Lancashire U’20s county side, was a beneficiary as he put in a very good 80 minute shift. An early Tynedale scrummage was driven backwards at a rate of knots which encouraged the home pack.
Another player to impress in a strong overall team performance was openside flanker Phill Mills, on loan from Rossendale RUFC to cover for various injuries. He was back in Fylde colours at the Woodlands for the first time since April 2016 and made his mark with an all action display.
It took the home side just five minutes to establish a lead which they never threatened to lose. A couple of early forays into the Tynedale half by no 8 David Fairbrother and winger Tom Carleton was followed by a neat combination down the left touchline. Lock Matt Garrod showed no ill effects from his long recovery following surgery and burst down field. He almost made the try line but was brought down just short. Hooker Ben Gregory was in close support, picked up and drove over for his 9th try of the season. Greg Smith was unable to add the conversion but his side had a 5-0 lead.
This was doubled in the 14th minute when a swift move right by the Fylde backline reached Tom Carleton near the touchline and his side’s leading try scorer did the rest with a sharp burst to the line. Smith’s attempted conversion drifted wide but a 10-0 lead was encouraging.
Tynedale also looked to move the ball through their backs and three minutes later they moved left. A pass some 40m out from their line was rather telegraphed and Carleton sharply intercepted and raced clear for his second try of what was to prove a productive day for the young man. Greg Smith added the extras and his side was 17-0 up.
At this stage it was mainly one way traffic as Fylde maintained their intensity and running game whilst a number of injuries hampered Tynedale’s progress. In the 25th minute the home side attacked from inside their own half. Fullback Connor Wilkinson came into the line, broke a couple of attempted tackles and raced clear. He turned on the after burners and scored a fine 50m try with hardly a hand laid on him. Smith converted once more and Fylde were cruising.
Back came the dogged Tynedale side and it was their turn for a short period of pressure. On the half hour they attacked down their left and a grubber kick was guided behind the Fylde defensive wall. Play making fly-half Jake Rodgers chased the kick and outran the home defence to get sufficient downwards pressure on the ball in the in-goal area to enable referee Ben Davis to award the try. Rodgers attempted to convert his own try but was unsuccessful. At least the deficit was reduced to 24-5.
Fylde came back strongly a few minutes later and slick handling freed winger Tom Grimes who made an incisive break down the left touchline. He fed centre Chris Briers who was in support and the player coach, though tap tackled, somehow made the try line on his knees! Fylde’s half-time lead of 29-5 was convincing and deserved after an all out attacking display. But, based on recent performances, which Fylde side would turn up for the 2nd half?
The answer came early in the second period. In the 48th minute Fylde attacked down the left and a grubber kick behind the Tynedale defence set up a group of players chasing towards the line. Tom Carleton reached the ball first and dotted it down for his hat trick try. Greg Smith’s conversion from the touchline was excellent and his side had a 36-5 advantage.
What followed for a ten minute spell was a sustained period of attacking from Tynedale as they camped deep in Fylde’s half. Penalties were conceded as fierce Fylde defence attempted to defy their various mauls and rucks. Tynedale mixed this up by moving the ball wide but the defence was solid as each attack broke down. Eventually, the Fylde pack earned a turnover penalty and Smith kicked to clear downfield.
In the 66th minute Fylde were on the attack again as they moved the ball down the right. Carleton, always at the heart of the action, received the ball on halfway, made ground and chipped it down the touchline. He reached it first and unselfishly threw an excellent pass infield to the fast supporting Tom Grimes who made the last couple of metres to score. Greg Smith’s radar was now working perfectly and his conversion broke the 40 points marker.
Back came the gritty North Easterners and they mounted more attacks on the Fylde line. This time they converted pressure into points as replacement Ben Haigh forced his way over from close range. The conversion was missed but the deficit had been reduced to 43-10.
But it was to be Fylde who, fittingly, had the last laugh. In the 73rd minute they attacked the visitors 30m out from their line. The ball was shipped smartly left and Connor Wilkinson threw a huge miss pass to Tom Grimes near the touchline and the winger fed Tom Carleton. The Wigan-born and bred youngster raced for the corner against a fast retreating defence and, with a Denny Solomona-style dive to the corner, got a superb one-handed touchdown before being forced into touch. Greg Smith converted beautifully once more from the touchline to finish the scoring and breaking the 50 point barrier.
This was a much improved performance by the home side and eight tries to two didn’t flatter them. Although Tom Carleton understandingly takes the headlines with his four tries, this was a true team effort involving all 20 members of the squad.
Fylde Head Coach Warren Spragg said: “We were generally very accurate today, which is encouraging after a couple of messy performances when we rather got stuck in the literal and metaphorical mud. Some of the rugby we played in the 1st half today was outstanding and the lads should be proud of that. We were so strong in the first 15-20 minutes that Tynedale struggled to get into the game.
“Our defence was generally well organised. The best way to stop opponents from scoring is not to let them have the ball and we dominated possession overall. Tom Carleton can certainly finish and was confident today, combining well with Connor Wilkinson and the rest of our backline. Playing Connor at fullback uses his ability as a counter attacker when he’s very dangerous. It was certainly the right combination today.”
FYLDE: 15 Wilkinson; 14 Carleton, 13 Briers (Botha 67), 12 Rawlings, 11 Grimes; 10 Smith, 9 Lanigan; 1 Lewis (Horner 40), 2 Gregory (Stephenson 70), 3 Ashcroft M, 4 Ashcroft N (Conner 60), 5 Garrod, 6 Chapman (Vernon 60), 7 Mills, 8 Fairbrother.
TYNEDALE: 15 Parker, 14 Burdon (Haydon-Wood 52), 13 Checksfield, 12 Bramwell (Clarkson 2, Haydon-Wood 7, Bramwell 21), 11 Pike; 10 Rodgers, 9 Outson (Clarkson 64); 1 Hughes, 2 Batey (Lowden 40), 3 Caudle 4 Dunn (Magowan 29), 5 Richards, 6 Cousin, 7 Bell, 8 Clarke (Haigh 56).