Four-try Brennand is Fylde hero

Record breaker Brennand
Record breaker Brennand
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Blaydon 24, Fylde 28

Oliver Brennand set a new Fylde try-scoring record by bagging all four tries to help his side halt a run of four successive National League One defeats.

And they did so at the unlikeliest of places – the Crow Trees ground where they have lost on all seven visits.

Winger Brennand’s barnstorming quartet took his total to 202 for the club, almost 10 years after he had opened his account with a hat-trick on his full debut as a 19-year-old at Kendal.

Injuries to senior players Paul Arnold, Sam Beaumont, Ryan De La Harpe and Gareth Gore hardly improved Fylde’s chances of recording only a third away win of the season at a ground where they have never tasted victory - in over a decade of trying.

The injuries did give a clutch of younger players the chance to step up and make their case for a regular starting place.

The early play followed a predictable script as the powerful Blaydon pack launched a trademark driving maul in the fifth minute.

No.8 Gavin Jones, soon to join up with four of the Fylde players in the England Counties squad to face Scotland Club XV at the Woodlands, got the touch down. Centre Andrew Baggett missed the conversion.

Play switched end to end and in the 20th minute Fylde had a lineout on halfway.

Lock Gareth Rawlings secured clean ball and it was moved through the backs.

Winger Brennand came off his left wing to cut through the home defence from 40 metres out to score in the right corner, taking him past late fellow winger Brendon Hanavan’s total of 198 Fylde tries.

Kicking from his ‘wrong’ side, Chris Johnson converted very well from the touchline to give Fylde a 7-5 lead.

Blaydon hit back almost immediately as they launched another driving maul near the Fylde line.

Referee Christophe Ridley adjudged that the maul had been pulled down deliberately and awarded a penalty try. Baggett added the conversion for a 12-7 lead.

Fylde stepped up the pressure inside the Blaydon half but the home defence was resolute and the score remained unchanged by the half-time interval.

It took Fylde just two minutes into the second half to regain the lead. They attacked through their backs and a neat offload by centre Scott Rawlings freed Brennand to score his 200th Fylde try in the left corner.

Johnson was having a very good day with the boot and converted well, once again from wide out, for a 14-12 advantage.

The rollercoaster of a game continued when the ball was spilled inside the Fylde half and Blaydon’s full-back Nathan Bailey hacked on and beat the cover defence to get the touchdown.

It looked as though the home side had secured the game in the 54th minute, when a fine 75-metre break by centre Tom Penny took him under the posts. Baggett converted to take his side into a 24-14 lead.

But Fylde had other ideas and stepped up the pressure inside the Blaydon half. As the home side moved the ball right through their backs, arch poacher Brennand anticipated the pass on half-way, intercepted and raced 50m for a very timely try. Johnson added the straightforward conversion to reduce the deficit to 21-24.

The game was now tense as the teams slugged it out, with each seeking the crucial match-winning score.

It came in the 73rd minute, when Fylde launched a flowing move left. Inevitably the ball reached Brennand and he beat the covering defence to score triumphantly in the left corner, earning his side a bonus point in the process.

Johnson added the icing on the cake with another superb conversion from the touchline.

Fylde held out for a confidence-boosting win. Although Brennand justifiably took the headlines, it was a much-improved all around performance, with the young players stepping up to the mark in impressive fashion.

Delighted coach Mark Nelson said: “It was a great performance by all 20 players. It has clearly been a very difficult three weeks, but I have always believed we were going to produce a good performance and I actually thought it would come at Blaydon.

“The younger players came of age and the more experienced lads really stepped up to the plate. Mention must go to Oli Brennand on a classy four tries, taking him past 200 tries for the club and into the record books.

“The team forged the win as toreadors and picadors do, leaving the peerless matador Oli Brennand to seal the victory. I congratulate the squad and stand-in skipper Chris Briers for a gutsy and accomplished victory.”

Fylde: Briers; Spragg, Dowds, S Rawlings, Brennand; Johnson, Dorrington; Birchall, Burtonwood, Lewis, Griffiths, Gore, Goodman, Vernon, Beaumont; Replacements: Lavelle, Maher, Fairbrother, G Rawlings, Nicholls.