Fylde RFC 29 Loughborough Students 17: Skipper leads by example to see off Woodlands visitors
Ben Gregory scored a hat-trick of tries as he led Fylde to victory and made it two wins from two in the league so far.
Fylde were playing their first home league game of the season at the Woodlands, after beating Tynedale 48-24 on the road last week.
Joint-head coaches Alex Loney and Chris Briers made two changes to the team fielded in the North East.
The returning Harlan Corrie was brought in alongside fellow Cumbrian Henry Hadfield, who had recovered from injury in time to be involved.
Briers was, however, missing for the match which left the side in the capable hands of Loney, who was looking for his players to build on last week’s excellent performance.
Loughborough had previously recorded a 27-23 win over Blaydon and their young side had a big set of forwards who looked like they were going to make it hard for Fylde at the scrums and the breakdowns.
The match was only three minutes old when Loughborough had James Tunney stretchered off with what looked like a nasty injury.
Once the game restarted, it was Fylde who scored first when captain Gregory charged onto a pass to score in the corner and give his side an early 5-0 lead.
Fylde were starting to control the game with Gregory leading from the front and the captain crossed again on 18 minutes to make it 10-0.
Loughborough hit back though when wing Samuel Kildunne was handed a walk-in try after a long pass from Charlie Titcombe beat a non-existent Fylde defence.
Titcombe also converted to reduce Fylde’s lead to three points.
The momentum was with the visitors now and Titcombe slotted over a penalty on the stroke of half-time to make it 10-10 at the break.
Fylde started the second half stronger but it was Loughborough who scored again when Titcombe kicked from deep.
Kildunne chased it all the way and won the pace race against Phill Mills to pick up and cross for his second of the match.
The try was converted by Titcombe, and for the first time in the game, Loughborough had the lead at 17-10.
Gregory was having a brilliant afternoon for the home side, though, and when he crossed for a third unconverted try on 53 minutes, it put Fylde right back into the contest.
The home side then turned the tables on Loughborough and began to regain some of the control they had in the opening 20 minutes.
They scored again when full-back Tom Carleton broke through the defence on halfway with a superb sidestep and ran the rest of the pitch to score under the posts.
Greg Smith was able to convert on this occasion and, in doing so, edged his side back in front at 22-17.
Smith then helped himself to a try when scrum-half Matt Sturgess took a quick penalty tap and broke up the middle.
He then drew in the full-back and offloaded to the supporting Smith, who raced 30 metres and finished it off near the posts.
He converted again, and with a little more than 10 minutes to go, Fylde had managed to overturn a seven-point deficit and put themselves 12 points in front.
Loughborough continued to put pressure on the Fylde defence, but when they missed a penalty attempt on 75 minutes, the writing was on the wall and Fylde closed out the game.
In the end there were plenty of positives for Fylde to take from a stop-start game with Gregory putting in a brilliant display to help get his side over the line.
It means that, two games into the season, Fylde sit second in the league table as they head to Huddersfield, who have won one and lost one.
They return to the Woodlands on September 25 to play Harrogate RUFC, who are winless after the first two games.
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