Fylde 118, Manchester 0
IT’S been a long wait, but Fylde finally clinched their first league championship success of any kind in over 90 years.
And they finished the job off in the most comprehensive manner imaginable with a record victory.
This may have been the mis-match of the day/season/century but nothing spoiled the celebratory taste of champagne that flowed at the end.
Champagne-Charlies against the league’s tail-end Charlies probably summed it up best.
Fylde scored 18 tries – the first after 59 seconds – plus 14 conversions to rub in their supremacy.
Even the scoreboard failed to deal with Fylde’s record league win, lacking the facility to go into triple figures.
Fylde’s ascendancy was such that the match was embarrassing to watch, though that was not what it all about.
This was the culmination of months of hard slog and Fylde are worthy champions of National League Two North, having won 15 of their last 16 games.
Manchester to their credit did not stop trying and could even have scored a couple of tries themselves, but it was always an unequal struggle once the floodgates opened with Nick Royle’s first-minute try.
Manchester are coached by Elaine Vissie, the only female coach in the national leagues and the only person with the bottle to take the job on.
Brian Ashton made a point of telling her afterwards that she was the bravest coach in the game. Fylde’s technical director was not being patronising, merely expressing his admiration.
Fylde largely obeyed coach Mark Nelson’s instruction to be ruthless, though amazingly the champions did waste chances.
The lion’s share of the tries went to Oli Brennand and Mike Waywell, with four apiece, while Steve Collins’ personal tally of points was 28.
Royle didn’t have to get out of third gear to get the better of a static defence for the opening try, goaled by Collins.
Scott Redfern missed with a penalty attempt for Manchester before Waywell skipped in for an eighth minute try after a searing break from deep by Sam Beaumont.
Paul Arnold broke through the non-existent defence from the halfway line after 11 minutes.
Next it was Jonny Roddam to cross after 15 minutes, then Brennand went half the length of the field.
Waywell scored his second from distance and it was 42-0 at the end of the opening quarter after Collins had converted all six tries.
Royle failed to ground the ball properly after a 75-metre break but Beaumont scored from the resulting scrum, Collins’ kick going over via the upright.
Royle made no mistake from his next long-range break, this time from 80 metres, to bring up the half-century after half an hour.
Poor handling denied Fylde two more tries before Pete Altham scored on 37 minutes. The upright cost Collins his 100 per cent kicking record but it still Fylde led 61-0 at half-time.
Manchester had 16 men on the field for the start of the second half, a glitch soon rectified, though one suspected it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
Within 90 seconds of the restart, Richard Kenyon crossed.
Lewis Simister got over the try-line for Manchester but referee Dave Edmunds ruled a forward pass.
Waywell got on the scoresheet again, after a neat break by Brennand and Martin Wallwork, and Jay Bejk wasted a chance for the visitors after sloppy Fylde handling.
Replacement flanker Harrison Collins showed eye-catching acceleration for the next Fylde try and Brennand pounced on loose ball to high-tail it over for yet another try.
Brennand tumbled over with a flourish for another touchdown and Steve Collins chased his own kick to score a clever try, his conversion making it 99-0 on 73 minutes
It was help yourself time in the closing stages as Brennand, Waywell and Alan Holmes all added to the mountainous try tally.
Fylde: Kenyon; Royle (Robinson, 70), Briers (McShane, 40), Waywell, Brennand; S Collins, Wallwork; Livesey (Lavlle, 53), Roddam, Altham, Arnold (Holmes, 63) Wells, Ferguson, Stephenson (H Collins, 47) S Beaumont.