Blackheath 14, Fylde 17

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FYLDE gave a spirited display to record a rare success in the capital and their first victory at Blackheath for 18 years.

It required some last-ditch Alamo-style heroics in the final minutes to complete the win which meant Fylde hold on to sixth place in North Lancashire One.

Mark Nelson’s side were inspired by the presence of more than 35 former Fylde players who had made the trip, a group who had amassed more than 6,000 first team appearances between them and included such legendary club figures such as Micky Weir (567 appearances), Dave Young (468), Mike Dixon (416) and Jon Taylor (408).

Fylde selected Martin Wallwork ahead of Ryan de la Harpe at scrum-half and Roger Banks was rested from pack duties, having featured in every previous game this season.

There was an intriguing head to head between goalkicking fly-halves Rory Teague and Chris Johnson, and it was Blackheath man Teague who opened the scoring with successful penalties in the third and 20th minutes.

Fylde had more than their share of possession and territory in the first half and their backs always looked threatening.

The battle at the tackle breakdown was fierce throughout and each side won turnover ball.

From one such occasion, Johnson put in a clever grubber kick behind a flat defence and arch poacher Oli Brennand was on hand to gather comfortably and touch down on 21 minutes.

Johnson converted expertly five metres from the touchline and Fylde led 7-6.

With both sides competing ferociously, Fylde looked more penetrative in the backs, but Blackheath were resolute in defence and piled forward when they had the chance.

And that’s what happened on 26 minutes, when scrum-half Ben Ibrahim took a quick-tap penalty and released centre Dave Bonner to score in the corner. Teague’s conversion attempt drifted wide of the uprights but ‘The Club’ had an 11-7 advantage.

Back came Fylde immediately and Johnson’s long restart gave Fylde field position in home territory. Excellent close quarter combination work between backs and forwards ended with no.8 Sam Beaumont finishing off the move in style for a team try. Johnson again added the extras and Fylde were back in front at 14-11.

This see-saw game switched again and Teague converted a penalty in the 35th minute to bring his side level at the interval. It had been a fine half of exciting, dynamic rugby by both sides.

The second period was to prove quite different. Much of it was a midfield stalemate as both sides tried to wrestle control.

Teague kicked frequently but this merely allowed Fylde’s back three of full-back Chris Briers, Brennand and Viney to run the ball back dangerously.

In the 42nd minute, a Blackheath player went off his feet at the tackle breakdown and Johnson converted for a 17-14 lead.

No one would have anticipated from the first-half action that this would prove the end of the scoring.

As the match progressed, the teams slugged it out in vigorous fashion. Fylde were forced back but their defence held firm under pressure.

This mounted as Blackheath laid siege to the Fylde line in a pulsating last 10 minutes. But they held out and, cheered on by that group of former players in the corner of Rectory Fields, celebrated as the final whistle blew.

Fylde: C Briers; Viney, S Briers, Barrow, Brennand; Johnson, Wallwork.; Birchall, Roddam, Lavelle, Arnold, Beaumont, Stewart, McGinnis, S Beaumont. Replacements: Altham, Burtonwood, Vernon, De La Harpe, Spragg.