Blaydon 20 Fylde RFC 40: Areas to address despite another victory

Fylde remained fourth in National Two North after returning from Blaydon with a bonus point victory to make it seven wins from nine.

Sunday, 31st October 2021, 4:45 pm

While the result was highly satisfactory at a ground where they have only won once in 10 previous visits, the performance was less so being as it was stop-start and patchy.

Some excellent line breaks led to some fine tries but there were long periods when Fylde struggled for fluency and accuracy.

Two yellow cards and a much higher penalty count than their opponents didn’t help, and it was only in the last 15 minutes that Fylde exerted enough control to put the game to bed.

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Fylde kicked off in bright sunlight into a swirling wind, with the 4G playing surface ensuring firm footing for an open game.

The home team started with energy and intent, keen to prevent Fylde from getting into any early rhythm.

A couple of high kicks in the difficult wind caused problems and a first penalty on three minutes saw Blaydon’s Nathan Horsfall kick them into an early 3-0 lead.

Fylde’s first serious break came from Tom Forster eight minutes later when he fed young Sam Fisher, who sped into the corner.

Leading 5-3, Fylde forced their first penalty on 17 minutes but gave away far too many.

From one, a smart move at the front of the lineout saw Blaydon hooker Sam Pyle dive over for a try, converted from wide out by Horsfall to give Blaydon a 10-5 advantage on 19 minutes.

Fylde’s frustration at their lack of fluency was compounded by Dave Fairbrother being yellow-carded on 25 minutes for a high tackle.

Horsfall kicked another penalty to stretch Blaydon’s lead to 13-5, but despite being a man down, Fylde then produced another cracking try.

A midfield break created space for Tom Grimes to race into the corner and make the score 13-10.

Straight from the kick-off, Fylde skipper Ben Gregory produced a strong carry and offload to Fisher, who raced in for his second try.

It meant Fylde had edged back in front at half-time, leading 15-13 despite Ben O’Ryan being yellow-carded just before the break.

Another long-range break at the start of the second half saw Fylde camped on the Blaydon line with the home team now down to 14 men after a yellow card for their second row, Austin Phillips.

A strong scrummage gave Matt Sturgess the space to dart in for a try under the posts, converted by Greg Smith to stretch Fylde’s lead to 22-13.

Rather than settle Fylde down, some over-ambitious and inaccurate play in their own half gifted possession to Blaydon before a missed tackle in midfield allowed Owen Chaplin to score.

Horsfall’s conversion then brought the score back to a nervy 22-20 in Fylde’s favour.

Blaydon then had 10 minutes of good pressure and penalties but failed to capitalise before Fylde finally started to exert some control, as well as find some composure and accuracy.

Smith kicked two penalties in the space of six minutes to move Fylde two scores ahead at 28-20.

The key moment came on 68 minutes as Matt Garrod was twice involved to link play and create space for Grimes to score a second try of the day against his former club.

The conversion was missed but Fylde were now 33-20 ahead against a Blaydon side who saw their man of the match, Ethan Clarke, yellow-carded – perhaps harshly – for what was deemed a dangerous tackle on Tom Carleton.

The final score came in the last minute when Blaydon, who had been plucky and adventurous all day, attempted to tap and run a penalty from close to their own line.

The ball was turned over and Carleton was able to canter in from a few yards out for one of his easiest tries this season before Smith’s conversion completed the scoring.

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