Fylde RFC 48 Wharfedale 18: Hat-trick for Tom Carleton in return to winning groove
A hat-trick by full-back Tom Carleton helped Fylde return to winning ways in National Two North.
A week on from their defeat at Rotherham, Fylde made it five league wins out of six but visitors Wharfedale did have them in trouble in the first half.
Fylde gave a debut to Ben Turner on the wing and there were two changes on the bench, with Matt Sturgess and Sam Parker included.
In the absence of joint-head coach Alex Loney, Chris Briers took sole charge in Fylde’s bid to bounce back on an overcast afternoon.
The North Yorkshire club had won only one game this season but started brightly, dominating the early stages and taking the lead with a Jack Blakeney-Edwards penalty.
Fylde were struggling to find the rhythm from their 80-point victory over Harrogate in their previous home game but they got on on the scoresheet when Henry Hadfield’s break from inside his own half was supported by Carleton.
The full-back took the pass to score and Greg Smith’s conversion gave the hosts a 7-3 lead.
However, Wharfedale hit back with a try of their own on 22 minutes, when Harry Bullough collected a chip over the top from Blakeney-Edwards to score.
The conversion and a second penalty extended the advantage to 13-7.
Fylde’s cause wasn’t helped when their excellent number eight Harlan Corrie was forced off with a head injury but fellow back-rower Phill Mills ensured they were back in front by half-time.
The flanker crossed off the back of another superb Carleton break and Smith’s goal made it 14-13 at the break, meaning Fylde had converted both of their clear-cut chances.
It was a much different story in the second half, though, as Fylde turned on the style and captain Ben Gregory crossed for two unconverted tries in the opening 10 minutes, stretching the lead to 24-13.
Carleton went over for his second in the corner after slick passing down the left, then Turner crowned his debut with a try from Smith’s inch-perfect kick to the corner.
Carlton then took a pass from returning half-back Sturgess to finish another well-worked move with his hat-trick try.
Tom Forster raced clear for an interception try on 76 minutes, Fylde’s eighth and final score as they remain the league’s leading point-scorers with 240.
Joe Fawcett had the final say with a Wharfedale consolation try, but what had begun as a frustrating afternoon for Fylde ended with a comfortable win.
But there is still plenty for the coaches to work on ahead of Saturday’s tricky tip to leaders Sedgley Park. Fylde remain two points behind but have climbed a place to fourth.
Sedgley and Rotherham are the only sides in the division still unbeaten, but Fylde still have players to return from injury and were back to their fast, slick style in the second half on Saturday.
Fylde: Carleton; Hadfield, Forster, Rawlings, Turner; Smith, Lanigan (Sturgess); Barrow (Sam Kyle-Clay), Gregory (Parker), Bowker, Parkinson, Garrod, Blake (Bentley), Mills, Corrie (O’Ryan).
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