Fylde 33 Preston Grasshoppers 27: Fylde hit back with Gregory hat-trick for derby triumph

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Hat-trick hero Ben Gregory inspired a Fylde fightback to come from 17-0 down to win derby day bragging rights over neighbours Preston Grasshoppers.

Hoppers raced into a 17-0 lead after 17 minutes before Fylde responded through tries from Gregory and the returning Matt Ashcroft.

Further scores from the forward duo after the break put Fylde ahead for the first time in the match before Jack Lightowler raced in for his second of the day to give Preston a one point lead with 10 minutes to play.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ultimately, the league’s top try scorer Gregory sealed Fylde’s league double over their near neighbours in the 75th minute with his third try of the afternoon.

Action from the derby clash between Fylde and Preston (photo: Chris Farrow)Action from the derby clash between Fylde and Preston (photo: Chris Farrow)
Action from the derby clash between Fylde and Preston (photo: Chris Farrow)

The visiting Hoppers made the perfect start at the Woodlands as winger Jack Lightowler went over in the 4th minute. The opening try came in bizarre fashion as Ben Gregory looked to be breaking through for Fylde before Sam Stott lost it forward allowing Preston to kick it away.

After this Fylde dropped the ball backwards and Rory Brand made the most of this racing towards the posts before he was brought down by Valu-Tane Bentley, but the scrum-half had the presence of mind to pop the ball up to Lightowler, who was there to finish. Will Hunt slotted the conversion to give Alex Keay’s side an early 7-0 lead.

It was a two-try lead five minutes later when Preston’s captain Scott Richardson burrowed over from short range after sustained pressure from the visitors on Fylde’s tryline.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Despite Fylde attempting to bounce back it was Hoppers who added to their lead with a penalty in the 17th minute through Hunt, who had to hurry up his kick after the ball fell off the tee, but the fly-half kept his cool to slot it between the sticks.

Fylde on the attack against Hoppers (photo: Chris Farrow)Fylde on the attack against Hoppers (photo: Chris Farrow)
Fylde on the attack against Hoppers (photo: Chris Farrow)

Fylde finally got themselves on the score board on derby day with captain Gregory going over for his 12th try of the season in the 19th minute. The hooker crashed over from the back of a driving maul. Greg Smith couldn’t add the extras.

This try gave Fylde more attacking emphasis and they were on the front foot on the half-hour mark when Hoppers flanker Ben Dorrington deliberately knocked the ball on to stop another Fylde attack. This led to the number six being sin-binned by referee Michael Harris.

Fylde’s pressure ramped up a gear after this sin bin and in the 36th minute Preston gave another penalty away, this time in their own 22 as Ben Gould was taken out at the ruck. The Hoppers player escaped a card and Fylde went on to score a minute later from a driving maul. Ashcroft, who was playing a less familiar role at number eight dived over from the tail of the maul to reduce Preston’s lead. Smith added the extras for the hosts.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hoppers led 17-12 at the break and quickly extended that lead after the interval with Hunt converting a penalty in the 44th minute. This came from Jordan Dorrington not supporting his weight at the breakdown.

Fylde responded in the 52nd minute, with Ashcroft getting his second try on his return to the side. The try, like the previous two efforts, came from a driving maul. Con????

Captain Gregory went over on the hour mark to complete Fylde's turnaround and put them into the lead for the first time in the game, ghosting in in the corner before going inside to help Smith with the angle of the conversion, which he nailed.

Fylde were pegged back nine minutes later when Lightowler got his second try of the afternoon, diving in in the corner, following sustained pressure from the Hoppers in Fylde's 22. Hunt nailed the touchline conversion to put Hoppers one point ahead and to set up a tense final 10 minutes at the Woodlands.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

With five minutes to go captain fantastic Gregory hit a brilliant line to break through Hoppers defensive line and help Fylde set up camp in Preston's 22. After multiple phases, Gregory was once again the man to go over for the hosts, much to the delight of the Woodlands home faithful. Smith added the extras to put Fylde six points ahead with four minutes to go.

Preston weren't finished there though and got straight back on the front foot down the other end, winning a scrum after Stott knocked it on in Fylde's 22. With two minutes to go it was now or never for the visitors, but despite multiple phases they ultimately lost out as Fylde got a vital turnover in the last play of the game to win the match.

The bonus point win saw Fylde climb to fifth in the National League Two North table ahead of their return to action in the new year. Alex Loney and Chris Briers' side's first game back is on the 6th January against Hull Ionians at the Woodlands.

Fylde: T. Carleton, Lanigan, Forster, Stott, Dorrington, Smith, Gould, Bowker, Gregory, Altham, Parkinson, Garrod, Hall-Lyon, Bentley, Ashcroft. Replacements: Brooks, Parker, Raymont, S.Carleton, Rawlings

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Preston Grasshoppers: Haigh, Lightowler, Browne, Keohane, Spence, Hunt, Brand, Pope, Holden, Williams, Townsley, Murray, Dorrington, Longson, Richardson. Replacements: Parkinson, Ashdown, Norrington, Willets, Gosling