Match report: Old Elthamians 55 Fylde 10

Ben Vernon had given Fylde an early lead against Old Elthamians
Ben Vernon had given Fylde an early lead against Old Elthamians
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Old Elthamians 55 Fylde 10

They were competitive for 60 minutes but tired against a rampant home side and conceded four late tries to give the scoreboard a very unflattering look as the final whistle blew.

The match started promisingly for the Lancastrians.

Often their performances away from the Woodlands have started slowly, they’ve conceded early tries and have had to chase the game.

An early home attack was thwarted and Fylde took play deep in the home side’s half.

A sniping run by fly-half Alex Dolly took him over the try line but he was held up.

The subsequent Fylde scrummages were excellent and they forced successive penalties near the line.

Flanker Ben Vernon picked up and drove over the line powerfully for his first try of the season in the ninth minute but Dolly was unable to add the conversion.

Vernon had been named among the replacements but young Sale Sharks backrower Sam Moore, who was due to make his debut for the club, suffered an allergic reaction on Friday evening and was admitted to hospital.

Within four minutes the hosts were level following a driving maul which ended with the ball being shipped right to leading try scorer, winger Dom Lespierre who squeezed in at the corner.

Fylde also suffered an injury blow when winger George Brookes limped off with a recurrence of a hamstring strain.

He was replaced by Greg Smith who went to fly-half and this required a rearrangement of their backline.

In the 20th minute Fylde were back inside their own 22 when an attempted clearance kick was charged down and Hamish Barton reached the loose ball first to score with Joe Carlisle’s conversion putting the home team 12-5 ahead.

The home pack began to flex their muscles and press Fylde into defensive mode.

Referee Alexander Thomas punished Fylde heavily throughout the game and, from an offence in the 25th minute, Carlisle kicked a penalty to stretch the lead to 15-5.

From another penalty in midfield in the 28th minute, Carlisle kicked for the corner.

The subsequent driven maul featured prop Lewis Brown who was tackled short of the line only for scrum-half Tom Parker to dummy a defender and stretch over.

Fylde came back strongly in the 31st minute when an excellent break from David Fairbrother shredded the defence and Connor Wilkinson was on hand to finish off the move down the left.

Dolly’s attempted conversion again was off target but Fylde were very much back in the game at 20-10 down.

Both teams were looking to attack and it was leading to an exciting end-to-end contest.

Before Fylde could consolidate that score, they went further behind a couple of minutes later.

Carlisle chipped over the visitors’ defensive line, collected the ball himself and put lock forward Ian Kench in the clear to score under the posts with Carlisle’s conversion making it 27-10 at half-time.

This was a hammer blow to Fylde hopes but they came out in a positive frame of mind for the second half.

During the third quarter they had more than their share of possession and territory as they tried to break down the Old Elthamians defence.

A fine break by Luke Fowden looked like it might lead to another score for the visitors but the hosts regained possession and cleared the danger.

The Fylde scrummage, in particular, caused all kinds of problems for the home side.

With the experience of prop Adam Lewis, the energy of hooker Curtis Langdon and the power of Dan Richardson, this looks an important weapon for the Woodlands team to build on.

But it was Old Elthamians who were to dominate the last 20 minutes.

In the 60th minute, the coup de grace was applied when, from yet another conceded penalty, Carlisle kicked for the corner.

The same formula was again effective as Fylde were unable to stop the ensuing driving maul as replacement hooker Nathan Morris emerged from under a pile of bodies to claim the try. It was converted for a 34-10 lead.

Four minutes later the agony for Fylde continued.

A break by scrum-half Parker created the danger and prop Alex Brown scooped up the loose ball to score.

In the 66th minute, with Fylde again defending their own line, airbrother was sinbinned for a technical offence.

Three minutes later a pre-planned move in midfield resulted in flanker Barton racing through the middle to score his second try and Carlisle’s conversion made the score 48-10.

The final minute saw Fylde attack through their backs but Lespierre read the pass, intercepted and raced clear to complete his brace of tries as well as the scoring for the afternoon.

Fylde head coach Warren Spragg said afterwards: “I was disappointed that we couldn’t build on a really strong start and ended up compounding too many errors to be truly competitive.

“Our scrum was dominant but didn’t get the reward we deserved, and, apart from that, Old Elthamians outplayed us in every department.

“Plymouth Albion will be strong next week and we will need to match their physicality and be at the top of our game in all areas to get a result.”