Coventry 53 Fylde 24: Match report and reaction

Dave Fairbrother scored for Fylde
Dave Fairbrother scored for Fylde
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This third heavy defeat on the road drops Fylde back into the bottom four of National One, and unless they improve on their travels this could become a very long season.

After two successive home wins, Fylde went to Coventry with genuine hope – and that was justified in a first half which ended with the hosts narrowly ahead 22-17.

But then Coventry stepped up their efforts and swept aside the Lancastrians with five tries in the second half to ease to victory.

There were late changes to the Fylde line-up as Jack Turley had not recovered from the ankle injury sustained in the win over Plymouth Albion. George Nott moved back to replace him at blindside flanker and Gareth Gore came into the second row.

Jamie Brookes was added to the replacements’ bench as was Simon Griffiths, who had made himself available.

Fylde started purposefully and opened the scoring in the fifth minute, when skipper Chris Briers finished off a neat move and fly-half Greg Smith added the goal.

It took Coventry only four minutes to respond as flanker Jack Willis, one of their three signings during the week on dual registration from Wasps, drove over following pressure close to the Fylde line.

Will Maisey missed the conversion, so Fylde remained in front at 7-5.

As the battle intensified, Cov again camped in Fylde territory and referee Hamish Smales awarded a penalty try after 20 minutes following a collapsed scrum.

Maisey converted and Cov extended their lead on 27 minutes, when full-back James Stokes scorched through from halfway for a fine individual try, Maisey’s goal making it 19-7.

Fylde battled back and scored from a clever, short lineout near the Coventry line. Hooker Tom Burtonwood dived over for the touch down and Smith converted from near the touchline to cut the deficit to five.

Maisey and Smith exchanged penalties before the teams trotted off to the changing rooms with the game in the balance.

The second half was a different story, though, as the hosts took control.

They extended their lead with tries in the 45th minute by winger Tom Howe, another dual-reg player from Wasps, and in the 51st by Andy Brown, who dummied his way through a stunned defence down the left, to make the score 32-17.

And the game was won in the 67th minute, when replacement centre Rob Knox’s try was goaled by Maisey.

Fylde’s heads didn’t drop and pressure close to the line resulted in David Fairbrother battering his way over for Smith’s conversion to make it 39-24.

But as Fylde chased a bonus point they opened themselves up to counter-attacks and Coventry ruthlessly added two late tries, a second for Willis and a debut try by their third Wasps player Owain James.

Fylde dropped four places to 13th as a result, adding extra importance to Saturday’s home clash with 11th-placed Hull Ionians.

Heach coach Paul Arnold said: “I’m very disappointed not to get anything out of the game. We played some good stuff at times and troubled Coventry in the first half.

“However, we also made some basic mistakes, with poor accuracy in attack which led to Coventry scores.

“They were clinical and ran away with it in the last 10 minutes, when we where going for a bonus -point try.

“Our decision-making, first-up tackles and various inaccuracies cost us massively but we will be working hard in training this week to put that right.”

Fylde: Dorrington, Bingham, Briers, Wilkinson, Brennand, Smith, Dever; Wild, Burtonwood, Pope, Arnold, Gore, Nott, Vernon, Fairbrother; Replacements: Griffiths, Maher, Lamprey, Brookes, Armstrong.