Fylde 38 hull ionians 17
That was one of the pertinent lessons to be underlined from this entertaining encounter, in which home winger Scott Armstrong scored a hat-trick.
With that prolific tryscorer Oli Brennand sidelined for what could be eight weeks with a hamstring strain, the onus was on Armstrong to deliver – and he did so.
Not only did he score three tries, but he helped lay on another as Fylde outscored a resilient Ionians side by five tries to three in this National League One encounter as the home side made it three wins out of the last four.
Player-coach Paul Arnold said: “Scott had a point to prove and he was not happy sitting on the bench for the last few weeks.
“He has come in and shown me how good he can be.
“He offers us something different to the other wingers. He is not as quick as them – he is not slow by any means – but he is very physical and strong. He can come off his wing and do some damage in midfield.”
Indeed he did and his presence was apparent from the start, Fylde flying into a 14-0 lead in four minutes.
There were also other notable performances which could be ticked off high up the register too.
Matt Lamprey was tremendous at number eight, Jack Turley excelling alongside in the back row, Connor Wilkinson looks a young class-act at centre, while prop Jake Pope’s impression as a Kieran Brookes playalike rather than lookalike is coming on a treat.
On the debit side there were two yellow cards for Fylde, while Simon Griffiths could count himself fortunate that he didn’t see red during a particularly unsavoury first half flare-up.
Fylde took the lead with two minutes gone, Armstrong making a dodging, jinking, solo run that saw him skirting past several defenders before touching down and cutting inside to facilitate Greg Smith’s conversion.
The home side doubled their lead two minutes later when a fine burst by Wilkinson cut open the defence and Jack Turley was alongside to collect the pass and score. Smith again goaled to make it 14-0.
Ionians replied in kind after these early setbacks and after an intense period of forward play crossed for a pushover try scored by hooker Alistair Thomson, which was unconverted.
Fylde’s response was almost instantaneous.
Smith found himself in space and passed to Armstrong, who zipped inside several Hull men before gliding over for a copybook try, goaled by Smith, making it 21-5 after only 14 minutes.
Despite Fylde’s lead the penalty count stacking up against them was 8-0 after only 27 minutes.
Fylde found themselves in bother when Ionians pinched their lineout ball.
This set up a breakaway by the visitors and only a strong tackle by Turley stopped Zak Poole in his tracks.
In the next phase of play, Lamprey was yellow-carded as Fylde were penalised yet again.
Ionians needed no second invitation to make the most of their man advantage as Greg Lound squeezed over in the left-hand corner after 35 minutes. Isaac Green missed with the conversion for the second time (21-10).
Punches were thrown by both sides as tempers frayed up front in the run-up to half-time; the referee spoke to both captains, but took no further action, with a belligerent Griffiths in the thick of it all.
On the stroke of half-time, 14-man Fylde registered a bonus point try with a slick inter-passing move.
Skipper Chris Briers fed Armstrong, who then sent it back to his captain, who duly scored. Smith added the goal points to make it 28-10 at half-time.
The second half commenced on the wrong note for Fylde when they conceded a penalty try eight minutes in.
The ball suddenly broke free and winger Aquile Smith raced after it.
His namesake on the Fylde side, Greg Smith, shoved him as he attempted to touch down and the referee awarded a penalty try, converted in front of the posts by Green.
To rub salt in the wound, Fylde fly-half Smith was yellow-carded for the offence; that made it 28-17, putting a totally different complexion on the contest.
That remained the score as the match entered the final quarter with all to play for, at which point Smith came back on to bring Fylde back to a full complement of 15.
After the free-scoring nature of the first half it was becoming attritional.
Fylde came close to crossing for a try, but Connor Dever and Anthony Bingham were held up on the line.
Fylde attacked again and this time it was the excellent Lamprey was held up as he pounded the line.
Then Armstrong, sniffing a hat-trick, was bundled into touch, almost within touching distance iof the corner-flag.
The pressure on Ionians continued as their centre Stephen Slingsby was sin-binned on 72 minutes; Smith landed the resulting penalty from 35 yards out (31-17).
On 77 minutes Fylde clinched it against a Hull side by now spent, and it was Armstrong who completed a superb hat-trick.
After a break by Briers, Dever launched a cross kick more in hope than expectation. but Armstrong latched on to it well and barged his way over, combining strength and speed. Smith landed the conversion to allay any doubts.
“I am happy with the way we performed and happy with the new signings as well,” Arnold added.
“Scott Armstrong and Matt Lamprey both had great games.
“At times we played some really good stuff. We did have a blip for a period but overall I am very happy.
“We kept the ball well and went through the phases.
“When we are accurate and keep hold of the ball that’s when we are going to cause teams problems.”