Fylde RFC’s magnificent seven take Lancashire to the brink of another final

Fylde players in the Lancashire squad; Front row: Connor Wilkinson and Cameron Crampton Back row: (l-r): Hallam Chapman (Sedgley Tigers), Tom Carleton, Jacob Conner, Elliot Horner, Tom Grimes, Ben Gregory
Fylde players in the Lancashire squad; Front row: Connor Wilkinson and Cameron Crampton Back row: (l-r): Hallam Chapman (Sedgley Tigers), Tom Carleton, Jacob Conner, Elliot Horner, Tom Grimes, Ben Gregory

Lancashire made it two wins out of two in rugby union’s Bill Beaumont County Championship as their 57-7 victory away to Eastern Counties left the Red Rose in pole position to reach the Twickenham final for the 10th time in 11 seasons.

A Lancashire side featuring seven Fylde players scored nine tries at Cambridge as they followed their 73-7 win over Durham in Sunderland with another excellent display.

The first half was tight as a host side featuring a spine of National One players from Cambridge RUFC proved no pushovers.

Lancashire took the lead with a try by Danny Maher, Sedgley Park’s former Fleetwood and Fylde hooker

It took until the final minute of the half for the Red Rose to score again through Fylde centre Conor Wilkinson.

Fly-half Chris Johnson could not convert neither try and Lancashire led 10-0 at half-time.

The second half was a different story as an early try by New Longton’s Scott Rawlings, another former Fylde player, was followed by Johnson’s first goal.

Phill Mills of Rossendale notched the bonus-point try shortly afterwards and the floodgates opened as Fylde full-back Tom Carleton scored next.

Number eight Hallam Chapman scored on the hour and Johnson’s conversion made it 36-0.

The tries kept coming at regular intervals as impressive Sale FC flanker Adam Aigbokhae touched down for Steve Collins, who had replaced Johnson, to convert.

The hosts scored their consolation try in the 66th minute but it was too little, too last as Wilkinson’s second try was followed by Aigbokhae’s in the closing minutes as Lancashire took their second-half tally to 47 points.

Ben Gregory and Elliot Horner made their senior county debuts as second-half replacements in a Fylde contingent also including Jacob Conner, Cam Crampton and Tom Grimes.

The northern group will be decided on Saturday, when Fylde’s Woodlands ground stages the Roses clash against a Yorkshire side defeated 21-20 by Cheshire at Huddersfield.

Victory for Lancashire will almost certainly see them through to Twickenham on May 26 to compete yet again for the cup which bears the name of Fylde’s most famous son.

However, a slip-up would open the door to Cheshire, if they defeat Durham at Birkenhead Park, or even to Yorkshire.

Lancashire’s head coach, the former Fylde boss Mark Nelson, said of Saturday’s victory at Cambridge: “We faced a team with a dogged and committed defence which we found hard to break down in the first half.

“However, we refocused at the break and the tries came in the second period.

“The players’ performance, against strong opposition, was excellent and that was reflected in the final scoreline.

“A pleasing aspect is the emergence of a new breed of talent which has come through the county age group ranks and Lancashire Royals into the senior side.

“It was also former Fylde players Steve Collins and Chris Johnson’s 30th game, which demonstrates the balance between youth and experience.

“We have a massive challenge ahead of us now with Yorkshire at the Woodlands this weekend.

“It is all to play for with three sides in contention for the right to represent the North section at Twickenham in the final.”