Fylde (clickety-) click with 66 in second half

FOUR-TRY FEAST: Fylde scrum-half Craig Aikman
FOUR-TRY FEAST: Fylde scrum-half Craig Aikman
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Manchester 6, Fylde 92

Fylde ran rampant as a glorious display of running rugby in the second half yielded 66 points for the runaway leaders in this top v bottom encounter.

Three players scored four tries each but Manchester side had made the going tough for Fylde in the first half, slowing play down by fair means or foul and roughing the visitors up with a few sly punches off the ball.

But Fylde were the first team to offend, conceding a second-minute penalty from which fly-half Dominic Kohler gave the home side a shortlived lead after just two minutes.

Fylde soon got their running game going and were in front after nine minutes, when scrum-half Craig Aikman broke down the blindside and Steve Collins converted the try.

Jack Ward made his first start of the season following a serious knee injury and the tall centre, in for the rested Mike Waywell, announced his return with a try on 13 minutes, set up by full-back Richard Kenyon.

Kohler’s second penalty pulled it back to 12-6 but Ward’s fellow centre Stephen Briers ran an excellent line in support of Collins’ break to score his seventh try of the campaign on 25 minutes.

Manchester’s spoiling tactics made for a disappointing spectacle in the first half but on 34 minutes Fylde produced the try of the game.

Starting on their own ten-metre line, the ball reached wing Oliver Brennand and he raced up the middle for a trademark long-distance touchdown without a hand being laid on him. Collins converted and Fylde led 26-6.

That’s how it remained at half-time, despite the hosts ending the half a man short after frustrated flanker Lewis Simister punched the somewhat larger lock Paul Arnold.

However, Manchester also had to negotiate the first six minutes of the second half with 14 men and during that period Fylde scored three times.

Aikman’s second, from an Arnold break, was followed by two from Nick Royle.

The England Sevens international and former Manchester player cut a frustrated figure in the first half but then cashed in with interest, bagging a hat-trick by the time the second period was 12 minutes old.

His first try was set up by a fine burst from prop Peter Altham, while Royle’s second was a solo effort from 40 metres.

The winger’s third spanned fully 60 metres as his pace and swerve took him past several defenders before diving over the line. Collins’ fifth conversion brought up the half-century.

There was no respite for the home side as Aikman completed the day’s second hat-trick, from another Collins break, and Royle latched on to a lovely Kenyon cross-kick for his fourth.

Not to be outdone, fellow winger Brennand then took centre stage. Relishing the wide open spaces, he matched Royle’s tally with an eight-minute hat-trick which had Fylde coaching consultant Brian Ashton, not normally one to go overboard with his praise, hailing some “superlative running rugby”.

Between Brennand’s final two tries, Manchester had been reduced to 13 men and Fylde to 14 following a fight involving home backs Miles Hall and Cyprian Majcher, and the visitors’ replacement hooker Jonny Roddam.

There was one more moment to savour as good hands by forwards John Wells and Tom Lavelle released Brennand, who unselfishly passed to Aikman 30 metres out and the scrum-half joined both wingers on the four-try mark.

Collins’ 11th conversion out of 14 completed the scoring as the final ten minutes brought no further tries.

The match was too spiteful and one-sided to be remembered fondly but it was another job well done for Fylde, who have now won nine successive matches and top the table by 22 points after the second v third clash between Loughborough and Westoe was postponed.

As for Manchester, this was their 54th consecutive league defeat and a third successive relegation is inevitable. Caldy will be more testing opponents for Fylde at the Woodlands on Saturday.

Fylde: Kenyon; Royle, Briers, Ward, Brennand; Collins, Aikman; Livesey, Holmes, Altham, Arnold, Wells, Sutherland, Stephenson, Beaumont; replacements: Lavelle, Roddam, Thoma, Thompson, Wallwork.