Scunthorpe 32 Fylde 52
Fylde trod new ground when they visited Heslam Park to meet Scunthorpe RUFC on the opening day of the National Two (North) season, the first ever match between the two clubs. The home side hit Fylde early and established a clear lead before the visitors settled into their typical attacking, free running vein.
Fylde were 14-20 down entering the second quarter but a devastating burst of five tries in 14 minutes running up to half time determined the outcome of the game. They were never going to lose from a position of 20-47 up at the break. Tom Carleton and Connor Wilkinson featured with five tries between them in an excellent overall team effort which secured a maximum five points haul and a very positive start to their Centenary Season.
Scunthorpe were fast out of the blocks and immediately attacked deep in the Fylde half. A visiting defender transgressed and full back Paul Cook kicked the penalty to open the scoring in the 2nd minute.
Fylde were penalised again in the 8th minute and a quick penalty resulted in skipper Tom Foster scoring the game’s first try. Cook’s conversion took the lead to 10-0 and Fylde looked initially off the pace.
This soon changed and a few minutes later a clever Fylde move with deft passing created space for fullback Tom Carleton to outpace the defence along the left touchline and he ran around to make the conversion easier. Greg Smith added the extras to reduce the deficit to 10-7.
As play switched ends once again, in the 15th minute a Fylde player’s hand in the ruck gave dead eye Cook another opportunity to kick the resultant penalty and he did just that to extend the lead to 13-7
In the 17th minute Fylde took the lead for the first time when they went through a number of phases ending in winger Tom Grimes diving over the line down the left. Greg Smith’s conversion was spot on for a 13-14 score line.
It was the Greens’ turn to hit back in this roller coaster game and Paul Cook showed he is more than just a kicker when he finished off a driving maul for his side’s second try. He easily added the conversion.
Back up the other end, visiting winger Lex Botha won a penalty at the breakdown in the 24th minute. The penalty was taken quickly and Scott Rawlings put fellow centre Connor Wilkinson through a gap to score. Smith converted the try and once more Fylde were ahead by 20-21.
Fylde were now flying and running the home side ragged. First Tom Carleton notched his second try and then Conner Wilkinson grabbed his brace by going over from close range. Smith converted both for a 20-35 advantage.
And still the tries came. In the 36th minute the Greens were penalised and Smith kicked for the corner. From the ensuing lineout, excellent handling involving forwards and backs ended with hooker Ben Gregory to smash his way over the line. Smith extended the lead to 20-42.
A minute from halftime the visitors cemented their dominance when Lex Botha finished off another smart move. Smith missed his first conversion of the afternoon but his side had a 20-47 advantage as the whistle blew for the break.
The 2nd half began much like the first. Scunthorpe threw men forward and they pressed deep in Fylde’s half. The visitors gave three successive penalties away but the Fylde defence was up to the task and repelled the home attacks.
A period of stalemate followed with Fylde Head Coach Warren Spragg calling up his replacements to give them needed game time.
The Greens favoured tactic of using their powerful rolling maul was being fiercely resisted by the visitors, with numerous attacks thwarted.
Backrower Hal Chapman, making his league debut for Fylde, made a strong break and earned a penalty in front of the posts. The easy penalty was declined and Fylde went for an attacking scrummage. This was held up and the initial danger passed.
Both teams were guilty of handling errors at this stage and then Scott Rawlings was sinbinned for a high tackle in the 68th minute.
Being a man down initially made little difference as Fylde forwards and backs worked numerous phases, right and left, before a delightful cross kick by Greg Smith was picked up by Tom Carleton on the right touchline and the fullback needed no invitation to race clear to score his hat trick try in the corner. Smith’s attempted conversion from the touchline hit the upright yet the 20-52 lead was conclusive.
Nevertheless, Scunthorpe heads didn’t drop and they roared back looking for a bonus point. In the 78th minute no 8 Ben Hyde drove over for a try before a last minute driving maul with tight head prop Oliver Cole claiming the try, converted by Paul Cook wrapped up the scoring at 32-52 and earned a consolation four try bonus point.
Fylde returned to Lancashire with the tasty prospect of a match against Preston Grasshoppers at the Woodlands on Saturday.
Head Coach Warren Spragg said: “The lads had been in a confident mood since the performance against Ionians last week; but league rugby is a different challenge, especially away from home. It took us longer than I would have liked to get into the game but we responded well to rack up a lot of points before half time and put the game out of reach.
“We’ve got some areas to work on as we move into next week’s derby and a difficult run of games afterwards, but we are well equipped to deal with those challenges and excited about testing ourselves!”
15 Carleton; 14 Botha (Brookes 62), 13 Wilkinson, 12 Rawlings, 11 Grimes; 10 Smith, 9 Lanigan; 1 Horner (Wild 62), 2 Gregory (Loney 40), 3 Lewis (c), 4 Ashcroft, 5 Conner, 6 Chapman, 7 O’Ryan (Vernon 40), 8 Fairbrother (Garrod 49).
Photos courtesy of Sean Wilkinson and, the b&w one, Michael Grant.