Huddersfield 32 Fylde RFC 15: Fylde bogged down at unhappy hunting ground

Another David Fairbrother try gave Fylde the best of starts
Another David Fairbrother try gave Fylde the best of starts
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Fylde slipped to their biggest defeat of the season at a rainsoaked Lockwood Park.

Fylde slipped to their biggest defeat of the season at a rainsoaked Lockwood Park.

This hasn’t been a favourite trip for the Lancastrians, who have lost four of their five matches at a ground they first visited in 2008.

Once again Fylde were better in the first half, despite going in at the break 17-15 down, though they were unable to add to their score in the second half as the heavens opened, conditions worsened considerably and Huddersfield claimed a decisive victory.

At least Sedgley Park’s defeat at Tynedale means Fylde retain second place in National Two North, though unbeaten leaders Caldy are now 13 points clear with a game in hand and look to be strolling to the title.

The game started in the most positive way for Fylde, with two tries in the opening 10 minutes.

In the fifth minute the visitors pressed deep inside the Field half and number eight David Fairbrother took Adam Lewis’ pass before driving over in the corner.

Greg Smith’s conversion attempt from wide out fell short against a strong wind.

Three minutes later things got even better for the Lancastrians, whose lineout was functioning very effectively.

And from a quick tap-penalty, the ball was kicked behind the defence and collected by full-back Tom Carleton, who scored his 15th try in another productive season.

The conversion this time drifted wide but the visitors had a deserved 10-0 lead.

Huddersfield picked up the pace of their game and hit back in the 15th minute. The Fylde defence initially did well to repel their advances until number eight and captain Dicky Piper forced his way over from a scrum inside the Fylde 22.

Will Milner converted well and the deficit was reduced to three points.

Fylde soon returned to the attack and an excellent break by scrum-half Adam Lanigan was continued by Carleton before he off loaded to Lex Botha, who scored a good try in the right corner on 26 minutes.

Again Smith’s attempted conversion into the wind was unsuccessful but Fylde were two scores ahead at 15-7.

However, the complexion of the game changed in the final five minutes of the half.

A long-range break saw Huddersfield wing Lewis Workman combine with full-back Tom Hodson, who scored with aplomb.

Milner’s conversion reduced the gap to one point, then a straightforward penalty just before the half-time whistle enabled Field to go into the break in front.

Some Fylde supporters were struggling to comprehend how a good 40-minute performance by Fylde, which included three excellent tries, could end with the home side in front.

But matters didn’t improve for the visitors, despite having the strong breeze at their backs in the second half, as they kicked the ball dead from the restart.

Fylde did have their share of possession and territory, and a kickable penalty offered a chance to restore their lead. However, they kicked for the corner and subsequently knocked on.

From the next penalty award on 50 minutes, it was Huddersfield’s turn to attempt a driving maul and scrum-half Jack Maplesden sniped around to score his side’s third try. Against all the odds, Milner converted well from wide out for a 24-15 lead.

Fylde defended grimly under pressure until Milner continued his fine afternoon by finishing off the bonus-point try on 58 minutes.

He was for once unable to add the extras but a 14-point lead looked decisive.

Maplesden was sinbinned but Fylde could not take advantage and five minutes later saw prop Elliott Horner join him in the bin.

Field put the final nail in the Lancastrian coffin when Milner converted a straightforward penalty on 72 minutes.

The final drama of the game was an unfortunate injury to Huddersfield centre Elliot Munnelly, which halted play for an extended period and the players left the pitch while he received attention.

Everyone was pleased to see him recovered in the clubhouse after the match.

The players returned to play out the final minutes with no affect on the scoreline as Huddersfield’s bonus-point win eased their worries at the bottom of the table.

Fylde had used their get-out-of-jail card in their last two home games but ran out of luck on this occasion, failing to take a single point for the first time all season.

They will look to reboot their promotion challenge for Tynedale’s visit to the Woodlands on Saturday.

Fylde Head Coach Warren Spragg said: “I’m really disappointed to lose, but sometimes you make unusual mistakes and games just end up getting away from you when it seems like you are in control.

“Huddersfield were gritty, outworked us and showed great team spirit, and in bad weather conditions that was enough to win.

“I know this experience will bring us closer as a group and give us a renewed focus going into the next few games against tough opposition.”

FYLDE: Carleton; Botha, Wilkinson, Rawlings, Grimes (Briers 56); Smith, Lanigan; Horner (O’Ryan 75), Gregory, Lewis (M Ashcroft 60), N Ashcroft (Garrod 60), Conner, Chapman (Lewis 67), Vernon, Fairbrother; replacement not used: Stephenson.