Fylde win in comfort despite late rally by rivals

Fylde - at the double
Fylde - at the double
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Fylde 25, Coventry 14

This match only fitfully scaled the heights in terms of entertainment, a rarity at the Woodlands, but it was a welcome win for Fylde and one that looked as though it would have been even more convincing, but for two late tries by the visitors, which erased some of the gloss.

Not that in any way shape or form could this be described as a glittering day when rugby was the winner - it was mired in stalemate for long periods in the first half.

In truth, the home side should have run out more comprehensive victors, missing out on a bonus point victory and forsaking the chance to complete their first defensive, clean-sheet of the season.

Coventry were strictly limited in their ability to test Fylde to the full, conceding too many penalties for comfort and committing numerous handling errors.

There was huge lull of action until it sparked into life for Fylde at the end of the first half with two rapid-fire tries, and another nine minutes into the second half, which effectively closed out the contest.

The fourth bonus point try, however, was to elude Fylde who were left ruing such a missed opportunity.

This win was backed up by some encouraging performances.

When Fylde were at their best, Chris Johnson proved hard to subdue at fly-half, while skipper Chris Briers produced one of his best displays of the campaign.

Sam Beaumont was typically steady-away at number eight, while Scott Rawlings was hot to handle when he came on as replacement centre in the second half.

But it was an afternoon when Fylde did not need to be at their 100 per cent optimum against a disappointing Coventry side, who simply didn't perform and only got going when it was far, far too late to have any impact, except as a source of frustration to the home that they let their guard slip so late in proceedings.

Fylde had the first scoring chance of the contest, a penalty after Coventry collapsed a scrum, and Johnson landed the long-range kick.

The home side launched anotrher attack soon afterwards, Jordan Dorrington making a searing break from deep, but his pass to Johnson was ruled forward as the visitors' defence was in complete retreat.

It was very much a low-key opening in the first 15 minutes, with neither side making much leeway and the ball often being spilled.

Fylde had a narrow squeak when they lost a scrum against the head near their own line, but Cov failed to capitalise.

The trend continued for the next 10 minutes, with the action as drab and grey as the weather.

Fylde were having problems holding their own in the scrums where Coventry were in the ascendancy for a time, but the visitors failed to capitalise on one notable occasion on the half-hour mark.

Attacks by the home side had been few and far between, but they got into good territory in the run-up to half-time in a period of play when Coventry front rower Tiploma Kivalu was yellow-carded.

Johnson skirted dangerously near the Coventry line in the next phase of attack as Fylde threatened to finish the first half with a flourish.

Indeed, that is what transpired - twice over.

Ralph Dowds found Oli Brennand with a swift outside pass, and the Fylde winger showed enough strength to barge his way over despite the attentions of several Coventry defenders.

Johnson augmented Brennand's 37th minute try with a fine, accurate kick from wide out to take the score to 10-0.

Three minutes later and Fylde scored again.

The home side won swift line-out ball after Johnson had found touch with a 50-yard cross kick, Evan Stewart careering through for the touchdown.

Johnson again landed an excellent conversion as Fylde took due advantage of the fact that Coventry were down to 14 men and went into the interval 17-0 up.

At the start of the second half, Fylde withdrew Warren Spragg in a tactical manoeuvre

Scoitt Rawlings came into the cenre, with Briers moving to full-back and Dorrington switching to the wing.

Scot Rawlings certainly let Coventry know he was there within minutes with an aggressive run that took some stopping.

The attack continued and Fylde won a penalty, duly slotted over in front of the posts by Johnson.

Skipper Briers, who was having a stormer, got his due reward with an excellent try after being fed by Brennand down the left wing.

Briers had been troublesome throughout to Coventry, who were behind 25-0 after 49 minutes.

Coventry tried to hit back and looked on the verge of their first score only for scrum-half George Tressider to knock on with the try-line gaping invitingly in front of him.

Coventry mistakes started to replicate as they continued the stiff task of trying to get back into the game.

Ralph Dowds had Coventry back-pedalling with a superb break as Fylde hunted for a bonus point try, but he looked to be injured in the process and new boy Tom Morton came on for his debut.

Coventry were reduced to 14 men again when Chad Thorne was yellow-carded for pulling down a maul.

It looked as though the bonus point had arrived when Greg Nicholls actually got over the line, but the ball squirmed from his grasp after 66 minutes.

During the same spell, Scott Rawlings was too hasty in taking a tap-penalty and that chance went begging too.

Fylde's hopes of 'nilling' the opposition were ruined on 76 minutes when Tom Preece crashed over for a try, goaled by Cliff Hodgson.

A minute later Johnson spoiled what had been a tremendous afternoon for him when he was yellow-carded for a hight shot.

To compound Johnson's dismay, he had a cut to the head as he trooped off the field for treatment, needing five stitches to the wound.

The match moved into stoppage time and visting full-back Scott Hamilton galloped in for a second Cov try, converted by Hodgson.

But nothing could make inroads into Fylde's lead as they duly completed the double over the Midlanders, an achievement not to be under-estimated.

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