Rosslyn Park 14 Fylde 12: Full report and reaction

Jordan Dorrington: Chargedown
Jordan Dorrington: Chargedown
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Brave Fylde suffered another narrow defeat despite a brave and hard-working performance in London.

This was their sixth defeat by three points or fewer in National One this season – a habit they will be anxious to kick as they enter the last third of the campaign.

Fylde scored two opportunistic first-half tries and led until the 66th minute, when they conceded a vital penalty try. A losing bonus point was scarcely a consolation to a very disappointed Fylde dressing room.

Their afternoon started unfortunately as winger Anthony Bingham pulled up in the warm-up with a calf injury.

Warren Spragg replaced him on the wing and head coach Paul Arnold added his own name to the replacements.

Fylde showed their intentions early on as full-back Jordan Dorrington extended the Park defence with a typical sniping break.

But Rosslyn Park soon got into the swing as they dominated possession and territory in the initial stages.

They won a penalty in the Fylde half and kicked for the corner rather than for goal. Not for the only occasion, their subsequent lineout and maul was repelled successfully by aggressive defence.

England Counties full-back Andrew Henderson almost opened the scoring after 10 minutes, but he was stopped barely a metre out as Fylde escaped.

More pressure resulted in a Fylde offence at the ruck and penalty, from which Park fly-half Tom Whelan kicked the opening points on 14 minutes.

Fylde’s defence was superb under pressure as they tackled like dervishes and competed fiercely at the breakdown.

And the visitors came back strongly as they started to test the resolute Park defence with clever running and passing.

As half-time approached, Fylde upped the pace to take a dramatic lead with two tries in three minutes.

Dave Fairbrother almost forced his way over from a close-range scrum, but Fylde were not to be denied and the same player drove down the blindside from the next scrum to touch down.

Chris Johnson’s attempted conversion drifted wide but Fylde had a narrow 5-3 lead, which they extended in first-half stoppage time.

Neat passing resulted in a break by Adam Lewis, followed by a grubber kick from Johnson which winger Oli Brennand reached first for the touchdown. This classic smash and grab was crowned by a Johnson conversion to make it 12-3 at the interval.

The second half was virtually all Rosslyn Park and Fylde’s discipline faltered under pressure, Whelan kicking penalties on 49 and 52 minutes to cut the gap to just three points.

The crucial moment was the 62nd, when Fairbrother was yellow-carded as Fylde defended desperately.

Two more collapsed scrums exhausted the patience of the referee, who awarded Park a penalty try.

The hosts had the lead, even though the outstanding Dorrington raced off his line to charge down Whelan’s conversion attempt.

This could have proved vital as Fylde, trailing 14-12, were awarded a penalty for crossing just inside the Park half on 70 minutes.

It proved the visitors’ last chance as Park retained possession to close out the win their dominant second-half display merited. Their pack was strong and their blitz defence wrapped up a number of Fylde attacks.

Head coach Arnold said: “Obviously we were all very disappointed by another narrow defeat. This is a hard place to take points, so I suppose we should be grateful for a losing bonus point.

“Park controlled the tempo of the game and looked after the ball very well, but our guys put in a very brave and technically sound performance, especially in the first half, when our defence was terrific.

“Obviously, the yellow card made a difference but overall our discipline was good. Everyone did their bit but the backrow was outstanding. Ben Vernon and Sam Beaumont have made few appearances this season but both were exceptional alongside Dave Fairbrother.

“Once again, it’s been a learning exercise for us and we face three home games in February with confidence.”

Fylde slipped a place to 10th as a result, continuing their game of leapfrog with Coventry. Park remain eighth but are now nine points clear of Fylde.

Fylde: Dorrington; Brennand, S Rawlings, Briers, Spragg; Johnson, Nicholls; Birchall, Burtonwood, Lewis, G Rawlings, Gray, Beaumont, Vernon, Fairbrother. Replacements: Arnold, Griffiths, Arnold, Dowds, Mills.