Fylde RFC 21 Hinckley 8: Woodlands win sends Fylde to top of National Two North

The outstanding Connor Wilkinson makes a break for Fylde against Hinckley  Picture: ROB LOCK
The outstanding Connor Wilkinson makes a break for Fylde against Hinckley Picture: ROB LOCK

Fylde poked their noses in front in the National Two North title race, beating a well-organised Leicestershire side by three tries to one.

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This result, allied to former leaders Hull Ionians’ 26-20 defeat at title rivals Chester, left Fylde a point clear at the summit.

Seeking to avenge their 16-5 defeat at Hinckley in October, Fylde attacked from the off and won a first-minute penalty.

Connor Wilkinson made a break and was held up just short only for the attack to be halted by a forward pass.

However, a series of scrums left Hinckley in disarray and Fylde were awarded a penalty try after just five minutes.

Fylde dominated the next 10 minutes without further troubling the scoreboard before Hinckley showed how dangerous they could be with a midfield break.

Matt Lasis sneaked over the line despite Henry Hadfield’s best attempts at a last-ditch tackle. The conversion was missed but Hinckley were back in it at 7-5.

They earned their first penalty on 19 minutes and the catch and drive saw them edge close to the Fylde line before the chance went begging with a Lasis knock-on.

Fylde were struggling to exit from their own half, and when skipper Adam Lewis was penalised for a no arms tackle on 25 minutes, Joe Wilson’s fine goal edged the vistors in front.

A real competition between well-matched teams was developing and good work by Fylde’s Sam Dugdale won a penalty on 34 minutes but this came to nothing .

Fylde had to defend desperately again after Chris Briers was dispossessed but a knock-on set up a decisive counter-attack.

Greg Smith’s long miss-pass gave Nick Ashcroft the chance to break from almost on his own line.

He exchanged passes with Hadfield to break upfield before finding Wilkinson steaming up the middle in support and he cantered in from 40 metres.

This left Smith with a simple conversion to give Fylde a 14-8 half-time lead which had unlikely moments earlier.

The watching Sir Bill Beaumont must have been impressed to see Ashcroft, a fellow member of the second row brigade, rampaging fully 60 metres and showing deft hands to create one of the best tries seen at the Woodlands this season and also the turning point in this match.

The second half started with Fylde back in the ascendancy, earning all the penalties and building the pressure, though they were twice brought back for forward passes.

The returning Jacob Connor was forced off with another knock but Ben Vernon made a welcome return wth his muscular carries and committed defence.

Fylde’s scrum was still causing Hinckley problems, with Bevan Rodd in particular causing all sorts of strife.

Another scrum penalty gave Fylde territory close the Hinckley line and on 53 minutes Rodd surged over from another scrum at close quarters. Smith popped over the conversion and Fylde had breathing space at 21-8.

Gus Warr replaced Cameron Crampton and immediately made an impact with a 30-metre break and a neat chip to earn another five-metre scrum.

However, as Hinckley broke out of defence Hadfield was adjudged to have produced a dangerous tackle and was yellow-carded.

Fylde’s numerical disadvantage lasted only two minute until Hinckley’s replacement forward James Moreton was sinbinned for his dancing feet at a ruck.

Both teams continued to go at each other hammer and tongs looking for a try, in Fylde’s cae for a bonus point and in Hinckley’s to bring them back within one score.

Fylde replacement Alex Loney’s contribution was brief as he took a stinger on the shoulder, forcing hooker Ben Gregory to return after barely catching his breath.

Hinckley had a good five-minute spell but two great hits by Cal Ford resulted in a turnover penalty only for Fylde to squander their final chance of a fourth try with a scrappy lineout.

Rodd was quite rightly named man of the match for his try and his part in the scrum dominance but this was a good all-round team performance. Wilkinson was the pick of the back line.

The three teams within three points of the new leaders all have at least one game in hand, though Fylde are yet to play them all, starting with Saturday’s visit to Hull.

What is certain is that there will be more twists and turns to come, and with eight to play Fylde can dare to dream of promotion if they can continue a fine run which has seen them beaten only once in 13 games.

Fylde: Carleton, Hadfield, Briers, Wilkinson, Grimes (Botha 72), Smith, Crampton (Warr 50), Connor (Vernon 47), O’Ryan, Dugdale, Ashcroft, Garrod, Lewis (Ford 62), Gregory (Loney 62-72), Rodd;