Cinderford 34, Fylde RU 36
Fylde are the team to watch for nail-chewing excitement in the opening stages of the National One season.
They followed the opening day thriller against Jersey with a second victory by a two-point margin in Gloucestershire.
Fylde made light of the 360-mile round trip to open up a 12-0 lead thanks to two good tries in three minutes by debuant flanker Evan Stewart, in the seventh minute, and centre Mike Waywell.
Fly-half Steve Collins converted the first of these.
The Foresters came back aggressively, getting off the mark with a penalty by Rory Teague, who then scored a try and converted it to cut Fylde’s lead to two points.
However, scrum-half Collins restored the visitors’ 12-point cushion with a penalty followed by a try, which he dashed through for himself direct from a quick tap penalty and converted.
Fylde’s 22-10 advantage was somewhat against the run of play but there was time before the interval for Cinderford winger Lloyd Stapleton to score following some forward pressure and make it 22-17 at the break.
But with the breeze at their backs in the second half, the visitors were hopeful of winning their first away game at this level since March 2002 (27-21 at Wharfedale).
However, Fylde’s cause wasn’t helped by the loss of player-coach Paul Arnold who retired at the interval with a knee injury and was replaced by Mark Stephenson. Josh Beaumont moved up from flanker to take Arnold’s place at lock.
Having achieved forward parity in the first half, Fylde found it increasingly difficult to gain significant possession in the second.
An try by Foresters No.8 George Evans in the 48th minute, following a concerted drive by the home pack, enabled Teague to kick his side into the lead for the first time.
Three minutes later, however, they lost prop Paul Price to the sin-bin.
Fylde opted for a scrum rather than an easy three points and were rewarded when Nick Royle touched down between the posts .
It meant Fylde had their second successive four-try bonus point and Collins’ straightforward conversion gave them a 29-24 lead. Stephenson was yellow-carded on 61minutes and Teague’s penalty cut the deficit to two.
Down to 14 men, Fylde were really under the cosh but they battled their way into the Cinderford half and scored the decisive try on 73 minutes.
Steve Briers charged down a Teague clearance and replacement Ed Binham caught the loose ball to score.
Collins converted to complete his 16-point haul
But Cinderford came back once more, a second try by winger Stapleton securing them a bonus point too and setting up a thrilling final ten minutes as Teague converted.
Despite having the majority of possession, the home side couldn’t break down the Fylde defence once more.
For the second Saturday running, Cinderford were forced to settled for a single point from a game they felt they should have won.
However, Fylde can take satisfaction from digging deep to preserve their 100 per cent start.
Fylde: Royle; C Briers, S Briers, Waywell, Brennand; Collins, Depledge; Livesey, Roddam, Loney, Arnold, Rawling, Stewart, J Beaumont, S Beaumont. Rep: Lavelle, Altham, Stephenson, Wallwork, Binham.