Fylde 21, Yorkshire Carnegie 39
This entertaining contest turned from what looked like a one-sided, phoney War Of The Roses to something approaching a battle royal after a splendid Fylde fightback.
The home side’s supporters must have had that sinking feeling as the full-timers from the Championship blitzed Fylde with three tries in 11 minutes.
But the match was turned on his head for a while in the second half as Fylde rocked their visitors with a three-try assault of their own, three touchdowns in the space of 12 minutes, to put them within touching distance of the lead and one which they came close to taking.
Carnegie’s class told in the end as another rapid-fire trio of tries by Carnegie settled the issue late on,
But in the time-honoured sporting expression, Fylde will take a number of positives from the match - and that’s not trotting out an old cliché, but plain fact.
There were several good performances in the final warm-up match before the National League One season opens a week on Saturday.
Simon Griffiths was on the field for about 40 minutes or so, but if he had been on for 80 he could hardly have created a more favourable impression with a Heart Of Oak-type display up front.
He was backed up ably by number eight Dave Fairbrother, who gave a wholehearted display, while hooker Phil Mills laid down a marker for making the hooker spot his own, in the face of stiff competition, with an eye-catching display.
Joe Robinson showed some good touches in the pack, while two-try Oli Brennand demonstrated clearly that he had not lost the scoring knack.
Full-back Christian Georgiou gave the visitors the lead in the third minute, racing in for an unconverted try.
Yorkshire Carnegie extended their lead on eight minutes through Ryan Burrows, whose crash-run try was augmented by Harry Leonard.
The vistors’ relentless run continued with a dashing try by David Doherty to extend the advantage to 17-0 after only 11 minutes.
There was a lull in the Carnegie scoring only the 25th minute when Doherty added his second try, goaled by Leonard to make it 24-0 in a half of virtually one-way traffic.
On an afternoon when Fylde paraded new signings Mills, Dominic Moon, Lewis Allen, Liam Launders and Todd Prisk, Fylde managed to gain territory in the run-up to half-time and attacked the Carnegie line.
Fylde kept pounding away in threatening manner, but just as it seemed as though the Carnegie line would be breached, the ball broke free and it was scooped up by Doherty, who went virtually the length of the field to cross the line.
But he was to be denied his hat-trick try - and quite properly too.
He had clearly knocked on before embarking on his gallop to the Fylde line - for a second or two it looked as though the try would be allowed until touch-judge Steve Halliday intervened and told referee Andy Taylorson of the infringement way back in play, and the correct decision was reached, a scrum where the offence committed with the Fylde put-in.
Moments later Carnegie were reduced to 14 men when scrum half Matt Dudman was yellow-carded.
At half-time Fylde trailed 24-0.
Within two minutes of the re-start, Fylde got a welcome first try and it was an Brennand speciality - it was a typical, long-range effort from the Fylde speedster, his marker Georgiou making the fatal mistake of showing him too much room on the outside. Chris Johnson added the goal points to pull back the leeway to 24-7.
There was more yellow-card peril for Carnegie as Andy Forsyth was banished to the sin-bin, leaving his side with 13 men for a spell.
Fylde capitalised and a piercing move was finished off with a try by Scott Rawlings between the posts - Johnson provided the extras and there was a different complexion on the contest with Carnegie’s lead down to 24-14.
Fylde nearly got a third when Johnson made a break down the left-wing and shifted it scrum-half Greg Nicholls, but the home scrum-half was tackled when it looked very much as though a score was on the cards.
The reprieve for Carnegie was short-lived.
The Fylde comeback continued to some tune as Robinson shovelled out a pass, gleefully received by Brennand, who finished it off with aplomb on 54 minutes, Johnson adding the conversion to reduce the deficit to 24-21 - some turnaround, for sure.
Remarkably, it looked for a split-second as though Fylde could even go ahead, but Fairbrother lost possession of the ball under the strength of a strong tackle - Carnegie managed to work the ball clear before it reached Doherty, whose length of the field run provided him with his hat-trick. The try was unconverted, but Carnegie were back two scores in front at 29-21.
Burrows powered in at the right-hand corner to calm any nerves and the shock to their system by the intensity of the Fylde fightback.
Carnegie turned the screw and Forsyth exploited a big gap to stroll to score an unconverted try, their seventh to Fylde’s three.
*Before the main match a largely youthful Fylde Hawks’ second team beat a determined, resolute Sandbach XV 24-15, out-scoring them by four tries to three.
Matt Birkett scored two tries for Fylde, with Ollie Trippier and Tom Perrin also crossing for touchdowns.
Alex Vowles-Bradley landed two conversions.
Sandbach’s three tries came from Jack Lynch (2) and Elliott Moore.
The downside for Fylde was an injury to prop Pete Altham, who returned to the Woodlands in the close season from Preston Grasshoppers.
He limped off in the second half to have an ankle injury heavily strapped on the sidelines.
Player-coach Paul Arnold said: “Pete would not have been in contention for the Loughborough match as he is unavailable anyway.”