Fylde fold to embarassing defeat

Fylde slip to defeat
Fylde slip to defeat
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Fylde 26, Plymouth Albion 38

A match that started with such promise degenerated into an unadulterated nightmare for the home side.

From leading 26-10 with 20 minutes to go, It all went horribly wrong and from looking near-certainties for a five-point win they had to settle for a single point as it all disintegrated around them.

Fylde unravelled and gave away three tries in the final seven minute to turn the contest completely on its head and leave everyone among the home support demoralised.

The home side lost all sense of game management and how to defend a lead as they were hit by 28 Plymouth points in the space of 20 minutes - with none in reply - leavinjg everyone with a Fylde affiliation shaking their head in utter disbelief.

It should have been in the bag long before Plymouth's spirited comeback, which owed more to Fylde's failings than anything else.

They had performed so well in the first half, with four tries, two of them by Scott Rawlings, who could and perhaps should have gone on to get his hat-trick.

Dave Fairbrother and Evan Stewart were on their mettle in that first half, while Jordan Dorrington was a lively and enthusiastic scrum-half.

But all such positive thoughts were swept away by the grim events of that fateful final quarter in a match played in snow and sleet and watched by a crowd that included a rugby brains trust of Brian Ashton, Bill Beaumont and Mark Nelson, who must have been as baffled and bewildered by the manner of Fylde's late capitulation,

The high calibre of Fylde's play in that first half seemed like a distant, fading memory by the finish.

Fylde opened the scoring on seven minutes, much of the approach work being done by Anthony Bingham, who made bags of ground down the right wing.

His colleagues kept the momentum flowing, Chris Briers almost making it over, but the Plymouth defence was at full stretch by now - there were plenty of men waiting for the ball out on the left, one of them, Scott Rawlings, making the most of the gap to score a try, converted by Chris Johnson.

Plymouth had the chance to pull back three points immediately afterwards, but fly-half Billy Searle's kick sailed well wide of the target and low across the posts.

On 14 minutes, Plymouth drew level in highly unsatisfactory circumstances for Fylde.

Scott Rawlings had the ball wrestled away from him near the halfway line - Johnson raced back to cover, but his pass to a team-mate only ran into the path of visiting lock Daniel Collier, who gratefully picked up and galloped his way to the line for a try, goaled by Searle.

On 19 minutes Fylde got their noses in front again, Scott Rawlings again the try-scorer, breaking through and speed as he grabbed Johnson's pass, and finishing off in clinical manner. Johnson added the goal points.

Fylde were then pulled up at a scrum, but Searle, essaying a long-range shot at goal, missed the penalty.

The picture looked even brighter for Fylde on 25 minutes as they scored a superb try.

Dorrington foraged well to gain ground and when Fylde's attack looked like losing momentum until Stewart was on hand to clean up and start another phase.

Scott Rawlings marauded down the right flank before releasing to Brennand, who had plenty of work to do. Combining raw speed and adroit footwork, he defied all attempts to stop him as he completed a 35-metre run to claim Fylde's third try, augmented again by Johnson.

Next up Searle's successful penalty pegged Fylde's lead back to 21-10.

Fylde continued to pour forward in numbers, threatening another try, but Plymouth just held on, but lost Ethan Ford, yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on.

The respite for Albion was temporary for Fylde soon notched up their fourth and bonus point try.

Johnson kicked for touch, Fylde winning quick line-out ball, which was shovelled out on to the blindside for Alex Loney to career over on the right, much to the delight of his personal fan-club, the students he teaches at Stonyhurst School, who were watching from the stand.

Johnson missed a difficult conversion kick from wide out.

The half ended with Plymouth camped on the Fylde line, the referee taking an inordinate time to oversee the scrummages, and the scoreline remained the same at the interval, Fylde leading 26-10.

Fairbrother troubled Plymouth with an early second half surge, threatening to go over, but then he was penalised for holding on to the ball too long.

Fylde made most of the early running without reward.

Plymouth made one breakaway to relieve the pressure as they kicked ahead when the ball ran loose - skipper Briers was alert to the situation as he chased back to kill the ball behind the posts, averting the danger.

Matthew Shepherd sniped around the Fylde line as Plymouth attacked again, but resolute defence saved the day.

Plymouth won the subsequent scrum against the head, but Fylde breathed a hefty sigh of relief when Shepherd knocked on three metres or less from the try-line.

The play stayed deep in the Fylde half and from the last of a succession of scrums, Fylde finally cracked and Michael Stupple scored a number eight's try, converted by Shepherd.

Fylde's lead was now down to two scores, 26-17 with 20 minutes left.

The home side hit back and Scott Rawlings looked on for his hat-trick try, but instead of going for the line, he tried a cross-kick and Bingham was just bundled into touch as he attempted in vain to latch on to it.

Bingham,Johnson and Ralph Dowds combined in a promising move as Fylde searched for a decisive try, only for the attack to break down due to a forward pass.

On 73 minutes, Fylde's lead was cut to two points.

Racing back to try and grab Searle's hopeful punt upfield, the ball squirmed agonisingly out of Warren Sprag's grasp and lock Nile Dacres took advantage to score a gift of a try, improved by Searle.

Fylde became the gift that kept on giving.

Two minutes later and Fylde's once impregnable lead had vanished, centre Marc Koteczky breaking clear and sprinting over for a killer try, which gave Plymouth the lead for the first time. Shepherd goaled.

It got worse for Fylde - Johnson tried a chip kick in a desperate attempt to to set up an attack, but only succeeded in kicking away possession.,

Plymouth scrum-half Shepherd took due advantage and had a virtual free reign to race unchallenged for another soft try - the tr-scorer himself kicked the conversion and compound an afternoon that was by the end as miserable as the weather.

Fylde: Spragg; Bingham, Briers, S Rawlings, Brennand; Johnson, Dorrington; Birchall, Loney, Lewis, Arnold, G Rawlings, Goodman, Stewart, Fairbrother. Replacements: Lavelle, Burtonwood, Gray, Dowds, Moon.