Fylde 35, Hull Ionians 38
Fylde suffered their fourth straight defeat in agonising circumstances, denied victory in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
They picked up two bonus points, but that was by way of scant consolation.
Even though they led 32-17 at one stage early in the second half, Fylde were never comfortable.
They were up against opponents who were never going to go the full length of the field, but did what they were good at. It was strongarm, not at all pretty to watch, but very effective
Hull had Fylde’s number when it came to the catch-and-drive manoeuvre, and it accrued four out of their five tries and Paul Arnokd’s men had no answer to it.
When it came to attacking play with ball in hand there was only one team in, it but in the end the home side were beaten five tries to four.
It was a sad way to Fylde to lose in so many ways, and players like Evan Stewart must have felt the pang of disappointment the most.
Playing his first match of the campaign and with no pre-season under his belt, he put in a terrific shift.
Dave Fairbrother was an able ally, blotting his copy-book with a yelllow card, while skipper Chris Briers and wing Oli Brennand were always a source of threat to Ionians whenever they got the ball.
But it was to no avail.
From 13-10, Fylde had held the lead for a full hour, but they were denied at the death as they failed to come to terms with the one weapon in Ionians’ armoury, one that they used with such telling effect, so much so that it decided the outcome.
Fykde had a lifeline late on when the visitors failed to kick an attacking penalty into touch, but then handed Ionians a lifeline of their own by getting penalised needlessly moments later.
Ionians conceded an early penalty after they were pinged at a Fylde rolling maul, and Chris Johnson slotted over the kick.
Hull responded with a series of attacks and from a catch-and-drive they took the lead - lock Edward Falkingham caught the ball at the throw and with support behind him piling in, it was flanker William Foden who got the final, try-scoring touch. Isaac Green added the goal points.
A searing break by Briers and Dorrington threatened a try - the move broke down, but Ionians’ relief was short-lived.
Ionians were very much still on the back foot as Scott Rawlings off-loaded well in the tackle to find Dorrington on his outside, the right-winger squeezing over for a try. Johnson missed the conversion, but his side were 8-7 in the lead, making for an eventful opening.
Fylde were severely under pressure up front in the next passage of play, so seriously disrupted that they gave away a penalty.
Evan Stewart was penalised in front of the posts, giving Green a simple task in putting Hull ahead again.
Oli Brennand burst clear to threaten another try - Dan Birchall was one of the players who kept the momentum going, but Dorrington knocked on under force of strong Ionians’ defending.
Green’s long range penalty after 24 minutes fell short.
Brennand and Ryan De La Harpe combined in threatening manner down the left, forcing a penalty as Fylde retaliated.
They scored from the resulting penalty - Stewart took clean line-out ball, and it was shipped out to Danny Maher, the hooker rumbling over for Fylde’s second try.
Johnson’s successful conversion took Fylde’s lead to 15-10.
Brennand was catching the eye all the time with some superb breaks, testing Hull on each occasion he had the ball in hand.
Dave Fairbrother had only been on the field for seven minutes when he made an impact.
After Scott Rawlings had ;punched a big hole in the Ionians’ reaguard, Fairbrother followed up and was not to be denied as he muscled his way over. Johnson added the goal points (22-10).
That lead was increased by three points after 35 minutes, thanks to a beauty of a penalty by Johnson.
Hull’s response was a lengthy period of attack up to half-time and Fylde breathed a massive sigh of relief when an Ioniians’ player knocked on just feet from the line with a score looking on the cards.
As it was the score remained the same with Fylde leading 25-10 at the break.
Ionians pressed Fylde at the start of the second half and a fast-moving rolling maul pinned the home side back, and it was Foden who claimed his second try to put the Humbersiders right back into it. Green reduced the arrears to 25-17 with an excellent conversion from wide on the right.
Fylde forced a penalty, from which they got the ideal response.
Johnson kicked deep for touch, Stewart took the ball in from the line-out throw and it was his back row colleague Ben Vernon who touched down for Fylde’s bonus point try - it was goaled in exemplary manner by Johnson (32-17)
Fairbrother was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on as Ionians loitered round the Fylde line with dangerous intent.
From the resulting scrum, Fylde were in deep bother and gave away a penalty try, converted by Green.
The home side were two scores in front, but there was still all to play for at 32-24 with 25 minutes or more to go.
Fylde were spurred into a strong series of attacks, resulting in a Johnson penalty on the hour to make it 35-24.
Fylde had a let-off when Iionians got a penalty in a dangerous position, but the kicker failed to find touch.
But seconds later Fylde were pinged again and this time Ionians did find touch and the home side were once again were sent into retreat once again by a rolling maul, Foden claiming his hat-trick and his side’s bonus point try.
The conversion by Green took the score to 35-31 and Fylde now had a real fight on their hands.
Chris Briers, Brennand and De La Harpe linked up superbly, but the move ended with the Fylde scrum-half losing the ball under challenge in arguably the most incisive attack of this absorbing contest.
It was a harum-scrum finale, with Fylde having to rely on dogged defending, but in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Ionians broke their hearts.
For the umpteenth time in the match, the home side fell victim to Ionians’ catch-and-drive tactic at a line-out.
They got on yet another drive before the ball was manoeuvred out to the narrow side and winger Sam Wilson somehow contorted his body over the line to get the killer try.
Green’s convesion was the last kick of the match.
All Fylde’s home games have gone down to the wire and settled in the dying stages and twice now they have been caught out.
Fylde: Briers, Dorrington, Dowds S Rawlings, Brennand; Johnson, De La Harpe; Birchall, Maher, Lewis, Arnold, Prisk, Goodman Vernon Stewart. Replacements: Lavelle, Mills, Fairbrother, Spragg, Moon.