Stourbridge 18 Fylde 36
Fylde have a very positive record against Stourbridge – five victories in the six league games between the clubs which began in 2001. They also have done well at Stourton Park with two wins in three games there. And so it proved once again on Saturday when the visitors scored 36 points in the 2nd half thanks to five tries and reliable kicking from fly-half Greg Smith. This was a very pleasing return to form for Fylde following four losses in their last five National Two (North) fixtures and they moved back to 7th in the division.
Stourbridge had the advantage of a strong wind behind them in a game played on the Club’s new 4G artificial grass pitch but they struggled to use it productively against a stern and determined Fylde defence.
The home team dominated the first quarter of the match and spent most of it in the Fylde half. Goal kicking fly-half Chris Scott narrowly missed an early penalty but he made up for it in the 15th minute when, following a Fylde error at the breakdown, he gave his side a 3-0 advantage.
In the 25th minute Stour fullback Mark Harrison broke clear in an excellent 50m burst to the line. A last gasp tackle prevented the try as Harrison was unable to ground the ball properly. Shortly afterwards, Stour winger Dan Rundle was sent to the sinbin and Fylde held out to restrict the home side to a 3-0 lead at the interval.
Fylde soon exploited the wind at their backs in the 2nd half with a 41st minute try by live wire scrum-half Cameron Crampton, his first for the Club. The Fylde backs began to run amok in a glittering display in the third quarter. In the 45th minute they broke from deep and Tom Carleton was the victim of a high tackle by Harrison. Greg Smith kicked the penalty for a 3-8 lead and the Stour fullback trotted off to the sin bin.
Three minutes later they were at it again. Another long range break out by fullback Connor Wilkinson led to a pass to Carleton who put in a clever cross kick which bounced kindly for the fast supporting Crampton who scored his second try of the afternoon under the posts. Greg Smith converted for a 3-15 advantage.
In the 56th minute, from an attacking Stourbridge kick into Fylde territory, the backs again ran it back at the home defence. Skipper Chris Briers made the break and Greg Smith was up in support to score his 2nd try of the season. He converted from wide out and Fylde were in front by 3-22.
The mayhem continued immediately. From the re-start kick, Fylde secured clean ball and after three quick phases there was a lovely break through the middle by centre Ralph Dowds before he passed to hooker Ben Gregory who scampered over for Fylde’s bonus point try, added to by another Smith conversion, and a lead of 3-29.
In the 63rd minute there was a melee near the touchdown and two Fylde players, prop Elliott Horner and no 8 David Fairbrother, who had been prominent throughout on his return from injury, were shown yellow cards as a result.
This obviously halted Fylde momentum and whilst they regrouped they gave away back to back penalties as the home side seized their opportunity with centre George Morgan forcing his way over from close range to score Stour’s first try. By this time, Adam Lanigan and Cal Ford replaced Crampton and Parkinson, and soon after Henry Hadfield, Ewan Ashman and Matt Garrod took over from Tom Grimes, Ben Gregory and Harlan Corrie.
The 13 men fought back against the odds and in the 71st minute Hadfield put in a strong run before Tom Carleton finished off the move in typical fashion racing around the outside for his 7th try of the campaign. Smith converted and Fylde were well clear at 8-36.
Fylde took their collective feet of the gas and the gritty Stourbridge squad fought back to score two consolation tries in the 77th and 79th minutes by scrum-half Joe Heatley from an accurate cross kick and then winger Dan Rundle. Neither conversion was attempted into the strong wind as Stour desperately looked for a final bonus point try. This was to no avail as the final whistle sounded.
Delighted head coach Warren Spragg said: “It was similar to the Hull game in terms of the conditions being fairly identical. We looked after the ball well against the wind in the first half and didn’t give them many opportunities.
“Against Hull we thought the wind would do the work for us in the second half but this time we stuck to playing how we wanted to.
“They probably had more of the ball in the second half but our defence was pretty epic, and when we got the ball we were a pleasure to watch. Tom and Ralph looked sharp and I’m pleased for Cam to score a couple.
“It was a test of character when we went down to 13 men. The incident was a bit messy and watching it back the sin-binnings were probably fair, though maybe one of their players could have got 10 minutes too.”
With no game next weekend, Fylde go into their two-week break in a positive frame of mind as they prepare for South Leicester’s visit to the Woodlands on Saturday week.
Photos courtesy of Ian Garrod.
Fylde: Wilkinson; Carleton, Dowds, Briers, Grimes; Smith, Crampton; Horner, Gregory, Joyner, Ashcroft, Parkinson, Corrie, O’Ryan, Fairbrother; replacements (all used):
Ford, Ashman, Garrod, Hadfield, Lanigan.