Hull Ionians 37, Fylde 22
Relegated basement boys Hull Ionians celebrated their first five-point haul and only their third win of the SSE National League One season, and Fylde’s head coach Mark Nelson admitted he could have no complaints.
Fylde outscored their hosts four tries to three as touchdowns from Dan Birchall, Chris Johnson, Oli Brennand and Simon Griffiths at least handed them a bonus point.
However, five penalties from the boot of Isaac Green that did the damage and extended Fylde’s poorest run of the season. This was their fourth defeat in five games, and although Fylde retain their top-four spot, leaders Doncaster are now mathematically out of reach with five games still to play.
Nelson insists his Fylde troops were their own worst enemies as they handed Green the chances to boot the National Two-bound Ionians to victory.
““I’m obviously disappointed to lose but we are decimated in terms of personnel,” he said.
“Give credit to Hull Ionians. They really made a go at it. They did well in the scrum and drive.
“We are missing forwards and they capitalised on that. We scored four tries, but in the second half there was a period where we conceded too many penalties and too many points.”
Indeed there was everything to play for as Fylde only trailed 13-10 at half-time but Nelson conceded: “Hull were worthy winners on the day. They have been a credit and a welcome addition in this league. They have been unlucky in a number of games.
“The 20-minute spell when we conceded position and penalties was a turning point. We had an opportunity but we did not take our chances and it was not to be.”
Fylde brought in Jordan Dorrington at scrum-half for the injured Ryan De La Harpe, with Griffiths replacing the unavailable Gareth Gore and Ben Vernon a late replacement for Sam Beaumont. Skipper Evan Stewart returned for the first time since breaking a rib in mid-January.
Green was successful with the first of his five penalties to put Ionians in front as early as the third minute but Fylde, throwing the ball about in their usual manner, replied with a try from prop Birchall.
Green put Ionians back in front with another penalty before Chris Johnson took advantage of David Laverick’s departure for the sin-bin to scored the visitors’ second.
It looked as Fylde would take a slender lead in at half-time but a break by winger Sam Wilson, carried on by Keane Naylor, took Ionians to within five metres of the visitors line, and from the resulting set-piece Ionians were awarded a penalty try.
The prolific Bennand opened the scoring within minutes of the restart, reacting when everyone else stopped for a forward pass and raced in from 40 yards, Johnson converting to give Fylde a four-point lead.
However, Ionians went back ahead with two further penalties from Green before Keane Naylor extended their lead as he took a pass from Green and outstripped the cover to cross in the corner.
Ionians were now in total control and made sure of the five points with a final penalty from Green and two tries from drives from the pack, Mark Wigham scoring them both.
Ionians tried their level best to give Fylde a bonus point but they refused to accept several gilt-edged opportunities until the final play of the game, when second row Griffiths went over for a try.
FYLDE: Viney, Spragg, Briers. C, Briers. S, Brennand, Johnson, Dorrington, Birchall, Burtonwood, Lewis, Griffiths, Arnold, Robinson, Vernon, Stewart; Replacements: Wild, Maher, Webb, Rath, Rylance
*SSE, proud sponsor of the National and Divisional Leagues, has £10,000 worth of mobile floodlights for your club to win. To find out how to enter go to www.SSERugby.