Doncaster 29 Fylde 24

Paul Arnold
Paul Arnold
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Fylde head coach Mark Nelson insists his players can hold their heads up high after taking SSE National League One leaders Doncaster Knights right down to the wire.

At the interval on Saturday Fylde looked like they would halt Doncaster’s unbeaten start to the season as they led 10-8 thanks to Paul Arnold and Oliver Brennand tries cancelling out a score and penalty from Douglas Flockhart for the hosts.

But shortly before the break Simon Griffiths found himself in the sin bin and the hosts made the most of the man advantage.

Roberto Santamaria put Doncaster ahead for the first time on 46 minutes before Chris Eggleshaw increased their lead shortly afterwards.

Fylde didn’t lie down and crossed twice more themselves – Chris Johnson and Arnold grabbing a second – but sandwiched in between was a Bruno Bravo try that settled the contest in the Knights’ favour.

Doncaster are the only side with a maximum 25 points from their five games but Nelson insists his Fylde side, who have slipped to sixth after back-to-back defeats – aren’t far off. “ I thought we had a pretty good chance of winning it all week,” said Nelson.

“I think that we played the sort of game that would challenge them and I’ve got to give them credit - their defence restricted us to 24 points.

“Right at the end it was nip and tuck and Doncaster ground it out. It was a very close game that could have gone either way but itt ipped in their balance. We are a creative side, who play an attacking brand of rugby and you could see why their structure thwarts a lot of teams.

“Doncaster are extremely well organised. They have a lot of very good players and a very astute coach in Clive Griffiths. We caused them a lot of problems and I’m very proud of the way our players played.

“It could have gone either way but I hold my hands up and say that Doncaster deserved it.

Nelson’s men, who welcomed back captain Evan Stewart after injury, were right in the clash at half-time,only for Griffiths’ sin-binning for a late tackle just before the break to swing the game in the hosts’ favour.

But the Fylde head coach was not about to use the referee as an excuse. Nelson added: “The sin-binning didn’t help but I have no complaints. Doncaster were resolute and strong, and when we had a line-out and were on the verge of scoring they managed to wrest the ball from us.

“There were a couple of tries scored in the corner that were marginal but maybe on another day these things will fall for us.”

HARRY NIGHTINGALE

Fylde: Viney; Spragg, C Briers, Barrow, Brennand; Johnson, De La Harpe; Birchall, Rylance, Griffiths, Arnold, Gore, Robinson, Stewart, Beaumont; Replacements: Altham, Burtonwood, Lewis, Dorrington, S Briers.