Fylde RFC 40 Chester 10: Tom Grimes hat-trick sees Fylde end year with perfect home record

Fylde rounded off 2021 in style with a first-half hat-trick from Tom Grimes and a comfortable win over Chester, who battled hard for the full 80 minutes.

Sunday, 19th December 2021, 1:11 pm
Updated Sunday, 19th December 2021, 1:12 pm

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Two changes were made to the starting line-up, Matt Ashcroft coming in at tighthead prop and Harlan Corrie back at blindside wing forward, with Sam Kyle-Clay recovering from injury to sit on the bench alongside the returning Ben O’Ryan and Adam Lewis.

Mid-table Chester had beaten bottom club Blaydon a week earlier to stop a run of three losses but they looked capable of causing Fylde plenty of problems, a fast back three the likeliest cause of damage.

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Tom Grimes gave Fylde a flying start with a first-minute try and a first-half hat-trick

The teams took to the field through a tunnel of Santas, made up of Fylde players whose matches had been postponed due to the rise in Covid cases.

There wasn’t even a minute on the clock when Fylde opened the scoring, Tom Forster breaking the line from inside his own half before passing to the supporting Tom Carleton. He found Grimes, who finished in the corner.

Greg Smith couldn’t convert from the touchline but this was a quick start to say the least.

A period of deadlock followed, with neither side able to push on, until Chester won a penalty on 24 minutes and Liam Reeve cut the deficit to two points.

Fylde responded as a Scott Rawlings cut-out pass wide to Ben Gregory allowed the captain to draw his man and send Grimes in at the corner for his second, Smith converting this time.

The floodlights were struggling to do their job but Grimes was trying his best to brighten the Woodlands with an electric performance which saw him wrap up his hat-trick on the stroke of half-time.

Matt Sturgess won the ball back for Fylde on the halfway line and beat a defender before delivering an excellent chip to the corner, where star man Grimes pounced.

Smith converted from the touchline, where he had found himself for all three conversions so far, to send his team in at half-time with a 19-3 lead.

Fylde deserved their advantage but still had plenty of work to do against a Chester side proving to be a tough nut to crack.

At times Fylde gave the ball away far too easily but they were trying to play expansive rugby and not be drawn into a battle in the middle.

They went straight on to the front foot in the second half and Rawlings made it count with Fylde’s fourth try, Smith converting again.

This was more like the Fylde we’ve seen this season, and as they rolled forward skipper Gregory helped himself to a try, powering over from close range.

Harry Wilkinson hit back with a try for the visitors but they couldn’t capitalise on the sin-binning of Matt Garrod.

And it was Fylde who scored the final try, Carleton getting in on the act right on the full-time whistle.

The final scoreline did not do justice to the visitors, who made Fylde work hard at times.

Fylde have reached the halfway point of their season having won all seven home games, though head coaches Chris Briers and Alex Loney will be looking to maintain that momentum away from home when the season resumes at Loughborough Students on January 8.

The postponement of half of Saturday’s games and a defeat for former leaders Stourbridge at Luctonians means fifth-placed Fylde have closed the gap on the clubs above them.

They trail new leaders Hull by six points but have played more games than any other side.

Fylde: Forster, Hadfield, Carleton, Rawlings, Grimes, Smith, Sturgess, Higgins, Gregory, Ashcroft, Parkinson, Garrod, Corrie, Partington, Fairbrother. Replacements: Kyle-Clay, Lewis, O’Ryan, Turner, Lanigan.

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