Barking 20 Fylde 19
BARKING halted a series of ten successive defeats to complete the double over Fylde with a last-minute penalty, despite Nick Royle bagging a hat-trick for the visitors.
The London club managed only try in reply but Craig Ratford was able to capitalise on Fylde’s indiscipline to kick the home side to victory.
This second successive defeat against a club struggling against relegation shows how competitive National One is this season. Apart from leaders Jersey, who continued their imperious progress towards promotion in April, just about any team can beat any other in the division.
Things started to go wrong for Fylde the day before this game, when a knee injury ruled Mike Waywell out of contention and led to a back division rejig, in which Royle switched to full-back, Oliver Viney came in on the wing, and Chris and Stephen Briers formed a centre partnership.
Fylde’s day went awry when their Preston-London train had to rerouted painfully slowly via Birmingham following an incident on the main West Coast line. This led to the team’s arrival at Goresbrook being delayed and the kick-off being put back 15 minutes.
The game started evenly but Fylde’s propensity to give away penalties soon started to make life difficult.
Barking fly-half Ratford, on loan from London Scottish, took full advantage in the ninth and 18th minutes to give his side a 6-0 advantage.
Things got worse for the visitors a minute later, when skipper Sam Beaumont became the first of two Fylde players to visit the sin-bin and hooker Jonny Roddam suffered a cut eyelid which resulted in hospital treatment.
But with Beaumont back on the pitch, Fylde struck back in the 32nd minute, when Royle exchanged passes with winger Oli Brennand and the England 7s player scored a typical try in the corner.
Richard Kenyon’s attempted conversion fell short but Fylde still trailed by a single point.
The visitors had an advantage in the scrums, though the forward battle was otherwise pretty even.
Fylde’s habit of giving away points just before half-time was again evident as they conceded a needless on in the closing seconds, allowing Ratford to stretch Barking’s lead to 9-5 at the break.
However, Royle struck again in the 48th minute, when he received the ball wide out and kicked over the Barking defensive line.
He beat the cover to the loose ball, picked it up and scored a trademark try the posts. Kenyon added the extras and Fylde were ahead for the first time.
Their advantage was shortlived as a fluent Barking backs move ended with speedy winger Stephen Hihetah bursting through to score a fine try. Ratford missed for the only time but his side were back in front at 14-12.
Lock Gareth Rawlings was the next Fylde player to upset referee Terry Hall and he was yellow-carded in the 57th minute.
This once more put the visitors on the back foot but they hung in and didn’t concede any more points while a man down.
But in the 69th minute Ratford kicked his fourth penalty to stretch the lead to five points. What looked like the matchwinning score came in the 71st minute, when Royle capitalised on an error for his hat-trick try. Kenyon added the extras and Fylde were in front at 19-17.
But they could not quite see the game out as a foolishly conceded penalty in the 80th minute allowed Ratford to break Fylde hearts.
Fylde: Royle, Viney, C Briers, S Briers, Brennand, Kenyon, McShane; Livesey, Roddam, Lavelle, Arnold, Rawlings, Stephenson, Stewart, S Beaumont.