Jersey 23, Fylde 8
BILL Beaumont presented Jersey with the National One champions’ trophy, though the Fylde legend will have been proud of his former club’s efforts in their final match of the season and of their outstanding campaign.
Fylde, already assured of a top-four finish following promotion last season, shook their hosts with a pulsating first ten minutes in front of a noisy 3,450 crowd at St Peters.
With no fewer than 800 tucking into the pre-match meal, there were plenty of high-spirited home supporters hoping to see their heroes close out a fantastic season in style.
But they had to withstand a determined start by the visitors, who had flown to an away fixture for the first time.
A lovely break by centre Chris Briers, who had another outstanding game, almost took him to the line, while bludgeoning runs by Josh Beaumont and Simon Griffiths were halted by desperate defence.
A chargedown by Richard Kenyon 20 metres from the Jersey line looked as though it would lead to the opening try but the Jersey defence scrambled the ball clear.
The home side also resisted a Fylde rolling maul before gaining a foothold in the game and starting to exert pressure through their forwards.
The Jersey pack had the upper hand in the tight exchanges throughout and this was to prove conclusive.
Poor discipline and mistakes by Fylde helped Jersey gain the upper hand and their fly-half Ross Broadfoot kicked them into a 6-0 lead with penalties in the 21st and 26th minutes.
The home side ratcheted up the pressure and in the last few minutes of the half were camped on the Fylde line.
As the weather conditions deteriorated, this became a battle of two terrific defences. But a series of penalties given against the Fylde front row eventually resulted in referee Gammage losing patience and awarding a penalty try.
Suddenly Jersey were 13-0 up as the half ended. This was a harsh reflection on Fylde’s efforts, though as they left the field they would have been ruing their failure to capitalise on their dominant opening.
The second half was more of the same, with the home pack causing problems at scrummages and nicking Fylde ball at line-outs. The enormous lock pairing of Nathan Hanney and old warhorse Jim Brownrigg thrived in the absence of Fylde’s Paul Arnold and the injured Gareth Rawlings.
But it wasn’t one-way traffic. Fylde pressed and Kenyon kicked a 35-metre penalty to get his side on the scoresheet.
However, Fylde gave away an unnecessary penalty straight from the restart and Broadfoot had a straightforward kick to restore the 13-point margin.
Fylde had to chase the game, and the wet, cold conditions contributed to handling mistakes by both sides. Each time Fylde’s sweeping attacks looked like opening up the obdurate Jersey defence, a knock-on or turnover would halt their progrees.
The sin-binning of flanker Steve McGinnis posed even more problems for the visitors.
And Jersey took due advantage in the 62nd minute, using their scrummaging superiority to press for the decisive score.
The Fylde pack was penalised three times before another disrupted scrum was punished with a second penalty try.
A 23-3 deficit was always going to be too much to pull back but Fylde’s replacements did bring new energy to the contest.
As Fylde fought back with gusto, it was the turn of the Jersey players to offend and Broadfoot was sinbinned.
Fylde attacked and Oli Brennand made an incursion down the right before the ball reached fellow winger Nick Royle, who powered over in the corner.
The last minute touchdown prevented Jersey becoming the first team in two seasons to deny Fylde a try in 80 minutes.
As the Fylde squad trooped off, they received an appreciative and warm response from both their own supporters and the home crowd. This has been a tremendous return to National One for the Lancastrians and they can look back with great pride on their achievements.
Fylde: Viney, Royle, C Briers, S Briers, Brennand, Kenyon, Wallwork, Griffiths, Rodam, Loney, Beaumont, Ferguson, Stewart, McGinnis, S Beaumont; replacements: Lavelle, Altham, Depledge, Stephenson, Collins.
*Fylde return to the Woodlands to face Sedgley Park in their Lancashire Cup semi-final tomorrow (7pm).