Fylde 17 Sedgley Tigers 14

Chris Johnson for Fylde
Chris Johnson for Fylde
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This was just the workout Fylde required with the National League One season only a week away.

It may have been billed as friendly, but it had as much intensity as a full-blown encounter with league points at stake.

Both sides will get plenty out of it.

Fylde produced some good running rugby, though some of the continuity rubbed off with a plethora of second-half substitutions.

And on this evidence, Sedgley Park’s absence from National League One may only be short-term following their relegation last season.

The main worry for Fylde was in the scrummaging department. They were penalised time without number as they struggled to come to terms with the referee’s interpretation.

Fylde made their first foray into Sedgley territory after 10 minutes and it nearly paid dividends.

Chris Johnson saw Ben Rath in the clear on the right wing and found him with a pinpoint cross-kick. However, the ball spilled out of Rath’s hands when a clean pick-up would have meant a certain score.

Fylde maintained the attacking impetus and Rath almost put Ollie Viney in the clear after a clever, weaving run through the middle.

The home side made the breakthrough after 18 minutes, when captain Evan Stewart crashed through a couple of tackles in splendid fashion before slipping the ball deftly to Viney, who crossed for a try, goaled from wide out by Johnson.

Fylde extended their lead on 31 minutes with an excellent try.

Scott Barrow, who had been at the heart of much of Fylde’s good work, found Warren Spragg with a pinpoint kick across to the left wing.

Spragg displayed superb sleight of hand to ship the ball in an instant to find Viney, who was in the right place at the right time again to claim his second touchdown.

Johnson was just wide with a fine effort from the touchline, kicking not being easy in the brisk breeze.

Sedgley won a series of penalties and a try looked likely until a stray pass was gratefully intercepted by Gareth Gore.

Stewart, Johnson and Ryan De La Harpe combined in tremendous style as half-time loomed, but refereee Andrew Rawson ruled a forward pass and hopes of a third Fylde try were dashed, leaving them 12-0 in front at the break.

Viney, scenting a hat-trick, tested Sedgley Park with a kick-and-chase, just knocking on under pressure.

Sedgley Park were reduced to 14 men when Chris Wilkinson was yellow-carded, sparking more pressure by Fylde, which the away side managed to withstand.

There then followed the best move of the match, which cried out for a try. The ball passed through no end of hands as Fylde countered.

It looked like Pete Atham might finish it off as he bombed through, then Viney and Stewart found the ball just too elusive to grasp as the line loomed.

It was at this point, 65 minutes, that Fylde made a crowd-scene number of substitutions, the opposition following suit.

One of the Fylde replacements, second row Paul Arnold, was yellow-carded and this was the spur for Sedgley retaliation. It came in the form of a try by forward Matt Lamprey, well converted by Tm Leader.

Fylde produced some party-piece, running rugby as they sought the clinching try and a score beckoned until Richard Kenyon fed Stewart with a forward pass.

Seconds later, Stephen Briers scored an enterprising try to put Fylde two scores in front once more at 17-7.

There was a twist in this entertaing tale as Sedgley hit back with a try from close range by forward Jonny Matthews, goaled by ex-Fylde fly-half Steve Collins.

The contest concluded with Fylde on the foot and they ended the match deserved victors against obdurate opponents.

Skipper Stewart was outstanding and an obvious candidate for man of the match with a terrific stint.