Fylde RFC 20 Hull 22: First home defeat sees Fylde knocked off top of table
Fylde lost for the first time at home this season and Hull deservedly took the points back to Humberside.
Although Fylde held a useful 20-12 lead at half-time, they struggled to put any pressure on the visitors’ defence for much of the second half.
Hull outscored them by three tries to two, and despite a late Fylde comeback they could not add any points in the second half.
Hull had stiffened up their squad with a few former Doncaster Knights players, including the massive tighthead prop Joe Sproston, having given a debut to former Premiership prop Charlie Beech the previous week. With a back five including veteran Tongan international Latu Makaffi, they have a formidable pack that will test most N2N clubs.
The visitors set their stall out early and in the second minute a Fylde kick was collected by full-back Steve McColl, who sprinted 50 metres through some ineffective tackling before supporting wing Mike Adlard scored down the right.
Former Hunslet RL fly-half Reece Dean was unable to add the conversion
Fylde then took control of the game and began to win penalties as Hull were forced to defend. In the seventh minute home fly-half Greg Smith opted to kick a straightforward penalty to get his side on the scoreboard.
Five minutes later, Smith kicked another penalty for the right corner. The driving maul was stopped but Fylde retained possession through several phases before back-rower Jacob Conner forced his way over for the touchdown.
Smith converted and Fylde had a 10-5 lead.
In the 17th minute, more sustained pressure inside the Hull half saw excellent centre Scott Rawlings take the ball at speed to burst over the line from 20 metres without a hand laid on him.
Smith converted and Fylde were sitting pretty at 17-5. It looked as though the leaders had the measure of Hull but then their huge front row began to dominate the scrums and win penalties.
Indifferent Fylde tackling in the 22nd minute led to the visitors hitting back thanks to a mazy run from the impressive full-back McColl after winger Adlard had shredded the Fylde defence. Reece Dean converted and the gap was down to five points.
On the stroke of half-time, another penalty was awarded to Fylde five metres inside the Hull half. Smith opted pragmatically to kick for goal and the long-range attempt was true, ensuring Fylde changed ends two scores clear.
It was obvious that this was going to be a close affair as Hull’s recent defeats had all been. They were winless in eight but the margin in their last five games had never been more than five points.
Hull completely dominated the play after the break. It was almost 20 minutes into the second period before Fylde made any serious inroads into the Hull half.
The visitors were camped inside the Fylde 22 for sustained spells as the beleaguered home defence worked hard to repel the avalanche of attacks, conceding numerous penalties near their line, one of which was goaled, as the Hull pack piled forward.
In the 62nd, minute Hull gained their reward as dangerous winger Adlard burst through the defence down the right and raced clear to score under the posts. Dean’s conversion was straightforward and the visitors were in front at 22-20.
Fylde belatedly came into the game as an attacking force. But whatever they tried was undermined by handling errors or wrong options .
Creative players who have unlocked defences so far this season, especially centre Connor Wilkinson and full-back Tom Carleton, found the Hull defence unbending as the minutes ticked by.
Fylde earned a penalty 40 metres out on the left side. It would have been a tricky kick to regain the lead but Smith has landed these this season. It was decided to kick for the corner but from the subsequent lineout Hull regained possession and the chance was lost.
Scott Rawlings was forced off with a facial injury to be replaced temporarily by Tom Forster, but such was the need to get the home team’s man of the match back into the action that he was quickly patched up.
In the last minute, the Fylde backs looked as though they might break down the right but again a handling error in contact undermined their efforts metres short of the Hull try line.
When referee Daniel Woods blew the final whistle the Hull players understandably celebrated joyously. Their mix of forward pressure, judicious kicking and the speed of McColl and Adlard had earned the win.
Fylde’s misery was completed by news of Caldy’s narrow 16-11 win at Wharfedale, which lifted the Wirrall club two points above Fylde at the top with a game in hand.
Sedgley Park’s big win at home to Otley – Fylde’s next two opponents – confirmed their challenge in third place, six points behind Fylde also from one fewer game.
FYLDE: Carleton; Botha, Wilkinson, Rawlings (Forster 68-74), Grimes; Smith, Lanigan; Horner, Loney, Lewis,N Ashcroft, Parkinson, Conner, Gregory, Chapman; Non-playing replacements: M Ashcroft, Stephenson, Wild, O’Ryan.