FYLDE 29 LOUGHBOROUGH STUDENTS 17 – report by Elliot Burrow
Ben Gregory scored a hat-trick of tries as he led his Fylde team to a 29–17 victory over Loughborough Students and made it two wins from two in National Two (North) so far.
Fylde were playing their first home league game of the season at The Woodlands, after beating Tynedale 48-24 on the road last week in the opening match.
Joint Head Coaches Alex Loney and Chris Briers made two changes to the team that was fielded over in the North East, with the returning Harlan Corrie brought in alongside fellow Cumbrian Henry Hadfield, who had recovered from injury in time to be involved.
Briers himself though was missing for the match which left the side in the capable hands of Loney who was looking for his players to build on last week’s excellent performance.
Loughborough themselves had a brilliant 27 – 23 win over Blaydon, and they had a young side and a big set of forwards who looked like they were going to make it hard for Fylde at the scrums and the breakdowns.
It also meant that someone was going to lose their 100% win record by the end of the game and Fylde were hoping it wasn’t going to be them.
The match was only three minutes old when Loughborough had James Tunney stretchered off in what looked like a nasty injury (see below*), and once the game restarted it was Fylde who scored first when captain Gregory charged onto a pass to score in the corner and give his side an early 5-0 lead.
Fylde were starting to control the game, and the skipper was leading from the front, and he crossed again on 18 minutes off the back of a strong maul from his team to make it 10-0.
Loughborough hit back though when Samuel Kildunne was handed a walk in try after a long pass from Charlie Titcombe, and Titcombe converted to reduce Fylde’s lead to three points.
Momentum was with the visitors now, and Titcombe slotted over a penalty goal right on the stroke of half-time to make it 10 – 10 at the break, and Fylde had thrown away their 10 point lead to leave the game all to play for heading into the second-half.
Fylde started the half stronger, but it was Loughborough who scored the opening points when Titcombe kicked from deep, and Kildunne chased it all the way and won the pace race against Phill Mills to pick up and cross for his second of the match.
The try was converted by Titcombe, and for the first time in the game Loughborough had the lead.
Gregory was having a brilliant afternoon for the home side though, and when he crossed for his third unconverted try of the game on 53 minutes in what was a carbon copy of his first score of the afternoon, it put Fylde right back into the contest.
The home side had managed to turn the tables on Loughborough now, and were starting to regain some of that control they had in the opening 20 minutes.
They scored again when full-back Tom Carleton broke through the defence with a superb sidestep and ran the rest of the pitch to score under the posts.
This time Greg Smith could convert, and with that he had edged his side back into a 22 – 17 lead.
Smith then helped himself to a try, when Matt Sturgess took a quick penalty tap to break clear up the middle, before drawing in the full-back and offloading to the supporting Smith who finished it off near the sticks.
He converted again, and with just over 10 minutes to go, Fylde had managed to overturn a seven point deficit and put themselves back in front.
Loughborough continued to put pressure on the Fylde defence, but when they missed a penalty goal attempt on 75 minutes the writing was on the wall, and Fylde closed out the game to make the final score Fylde 29 – 17 Loughborough Students.
In the end there was plenty of positives for Fylde to take from what was a stop start game, with the captain putting in a brilliant display to help get his side over the line.
Tom Carleton always caused problems for the Loughborough defence when he got the ball, and he was rewarded for his efforts with his fantastic solo try which pushed Fylde back in front in the second-half at a pivotal point in the game. Click here for a video clip of Tom’s try.
It meant that two games in, Fylde sat in 2nd position in the league table, and next week travel to Huddersfield, who have won one and lost one in the league so far.
They return back to the Woodlands Memorial Ground on the 25th September to welcome Harrogate RUFC who are winless still after the opening two rounds of games.
Fylde: Carleton, Hadfield, Forster, Rawlings (Jordan 33, Rawlings 41, Jordan 67), Grimes, Smith, Sturgess (Lanigan 67), Fairbrother (Barrow 79), Mills, Blake (Corrie 41), Garrod (Blake 67), Parkinson, Ashcroft (Bowker 41), Gregory, Barrow (Kyle-Clay 41).
Loughborough: Malone, Kildunne, Pope, Lewis, Smith (Trinder 50), Titcombe, Burgwin (Petrozzi 53) , Smith, Lavin, Tunney (Bloomer 3, Bourne 12), Wardell, Douglas-Bridge, Scharink (Rowntree 41), Langdon, Phillipson (Scharink 64).
UPDATE ON JAMES TUNNEY: the Students Director of Rugby Rhys Davies reports that James was checked over in Blackpool Victoria Hospital and is OK. We’re all delighted at that news!