Stourbridge 12 Fylde RFC 64: First-half hat-trick for Wilkinson in biggest win for nine years

Fylde have rediscovered their collective mojo in their last two National Two North games, running in 114 points.

Sunday, 26th January 2020, 5:00 pm
Connor Wilkinson scored three of Fylde's 10 tries at Stourbrdge
Connor Wilkinson scored three of Fylde's 10 tries at Stourbrdge


Fylde have rediscovered their collective mojo in their last two National Two North games, running in 114 points.

They gave an extraordinary first-half display in the West Midlands to build a 45-0 lead. With devastating combinations of forwards and backs, Fylde eviscerated the home defence and scored seven before the break.

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The second half was more even, with Stour battling hard and Fylde ringing the changes but still adding three further tries to the hosts’ two.

This was Fylde’s highest score since April 2011 – the season they were promoted to National One – and Stourbridge had begun the year as one of the form sides, winning their first two of 2020 and losing to Sedgley Park by just two points the previous weekend.

To complete a good weekend for Fylde, they are looking a little more secure in second spot after third-placed Sedgley lost 50-15 at Hinckley, Fylde’s next opponents.

Fylde opened the exchanges with gusto and immediate success. The firmness of Stour’s artificial pitch suited Fylde’s attacking, running style of play and they used this to the maximum advantage.

In the fifth minute, Fylde pressed inside the home 22 and full-back Connor Wilkinson neatly offloaded to prop Elliot Horner, who burst through to score between the posts. Greg Smith added the straightforward conversion.

A couple of minutes later, a shrewd infield kick by Smith pushed Stour back to their 22m line, and from Fylde’s lineout the ball was moved crisply until lock Nick Ashcroft broke through the defence to score near the posts. Once more Smith’s conversion was routine and his side led 14-0.

Fylde’s fast and furious assaults continued and in the 16th minute Scott Rawlings ploughed into the home defence.

When the ball was recycled, lock Matt Garrod gave a smart inside pass to scrum-half Adam Lanigan and he burst clear through a gap to score under the posts, Smith again converting.

In the 19th minute, Tom Carleton raced clear but was caught by the league’s top tryscorer Dan Rundle.

However, the winger offloaded for Wilkinson to score. The conversion was missed but at 26-0 the bonus point was already in the bag and the visitors were building an unassailable lead.

From the Stour restart kick, the visitors launched another attack and it resulted in another try, Wilkinson’s second. Smith’s kick extended the advantage from in front of the posts.

Stourbridge then had a period of pressure deep inside the Fylde half. A couple of penalties set the platform for a series of drives but the visitors’ defence held out before earning a relieving penalty themselves.

Normality resumed in the 37th minute, when Wilkinson collected his hat-trick try. Smith kicked the conversion to take Fylde to 40.

And right on the half-time whistle, Tom Grimes applied the perfect coda to a scintillating half of rugby when he scored wide out. Smith’s attempted conversion sailed wide but over 40 minutes the Stourbridge defence had been dismantled.

Coach for the day Alex Loney made some changes for the second half, replacing both wingers, but this had little immediate effect on the mayhem being perpetrated.

Two minutes in, Fylde brought up their half-century with a try by flanker Phill Mills, his first since rejoining the club just before Christmas. Smith added another goal.

This wasn’t the end of it, and in the 48th minute a brilliant piece of individualism by hooker Ben Gregory extended the lead further.

Fylde attacked in midfield and went left, Gregory racing clear from halfway to score in the corner. Smith’s kick was excellent and his seventh goal extended the Fylde lead to 59-0.

Stourbridge had pride at stake and established a measure of control with a period of pressure inside the Fylde half.

Rundle doesn’t need many opportunities to take his chances, especially when opponents miss tackles. He scored in the 54th minute and again in the 61st as Fylde took their foot off the gas, with one of these tries converted.

But Fylde deservedly had the last laugh when they scored their 10th try through replacement flanker Ben Vernon in the 67th minute.

The game meandered to its close but not before Tom Grimes was sinbinned in the 79th minute for a high tackle.

Fylde travelled home in high spirits after their best display of the season and their eighth victory away from the Woodlands.

Although Caldy remain 12 points clear and are showing no signs of losing a game, Fylde now have a nine-point cushion in second place and Saturday’s results have nullified Sedgley’s game in hand. However, a third of the campaign still remains.

FYLDE: Wilkinson (Grimes 62); Carleton (Botha 41), Briers, Rawlings, Grimes (Vernon 41); Smith, Lanigan; Horner (M Ashcroft 57), Gregory, Lewis, N Ashcroft (Garrod 62), Garrod (Conner 55), Chapman, Mills, Fairbrother; Replacement not used: Stephenson.