Fylde 34, Wharfedale 21
There’s never a dull moment watching Fylde and they continued their high-scoring start to the season with a five try to two win over a lively Wharfedale side, who were always competitive.
What was unusual about this match was that it was not one in which the back-line shared out the tries.
The touchdowns all came courtesy of the home forwards.
It was hard-edged contest though the try-scoring tempo did drop off somewhat in the second half.
Fylde had to be on the case throughout against a ‘Dale side that toiled hard to the finish.
Once again, it was skipper Evan Stewart who led his team from the front with a marvellous display until he left the field in the second half with a hip injury.
Paul Arnold was a potent force, particularly early on, while one crazy place-kick apart Scott Barrow was exemplary at centre and the pick of the backs.
Fylde opened their account after only three minutes, Arnold bursting away, almost un-noticed from a ruck to power over the line, resisting the attempts of fly-half Tom Barrett to halt him - Chris Johnson added the goal points.
Wharfedale won a penalty, which Barrett booted over from long range after a Fylde scrum offence.
Barrow then produced a tremendous tackle to stop the promising run of ‘Dale wing Josh Prell.
Another superb break by Arnold almost brought a try for Oli Brennand - Wharfedale were penalised near their line, resulting in Aaron Myers being yellow-carded.
Fylde instantly made the most of their one-man advantage, Pete Altham, plunging over from close range against his former team, which included his brother Joe in direct opposition.
Visiting centre Joseph Donkin threatened immediate retaliation with a searing break through the middle, but undid all the hard work with a sloppy pass.
The opening quarter ended with a third try by the home side - Warren Spragg caught ‘Dale out with a long-range run - the ball was passed on to Gareth Gore before Mark Rylance smuggled it over for touchdown.
Johnson’s conversion made it 19-3, two of the tries coming while the visitors were a man light.
Fylde fell foul of referee Andrew Rawson when they were guilty of another scrum infringement, and Barrett rattled over the penalty to reduce the arrears by three points.
Wharfedale piled forward from a line-out, almost breaching the Fylde line, but there was a cost for Fylde - Arnold was yellow-carded and Myers barged over for a try after the award of a penalty.
Barrett continued his outstanding form to date with the boot to convert and reduce Fylde’s advantage to six points.
Gore nearly got over as Fylde responded, but they did get a penalty in the follow-up, easily landed by Johnson to put his side two scores ahead at 22-13.
The half ended with the Greens of Wharfedale on the offensive - Fylde were caught offiside and for once Barrett missed what had looked his least difficult kick of the afternoon.
Within two minutes of the re-start, Wharfedale drew first blood with an excellent try as they showed off some snappy passing among the backs - full-back Adam Whaites shaped to kick the ball, but it wrong-footed Fylde for a split-second, the ball being shipped out to Prell who sprinted over for a try, fending off two attempts to tackle him.
The try went unconverted, but it was game on with Fylde’s lead reduced to 22-18.
Fylde missed an outstanding chance when Altham knocked on near the line - but Wharfedale’s relief was only temporary.
Wharfedale were penalised and from a quick tap Stewart careered over for a try, augmented by Johnson after 48 minutes.
Minutes later Barrett landed a penalty as the scoring continued in this entertaining contest in the September sunshine.
Then Fylde spent a significant spell in ‘Dale territory, but could not turn that into points.
Ben Vernon ended the lull with a try on 65 minutes.
Replacement scrum-half Tom Webb whipped the ball out of the scrum quickly, finding Brennand in full flight - the move was carried on by Arnold and Stewart before Vernon provided the final flourish.
Johnson missed the kick as Fylde led 34-21
Johnson was in the action soon after with a vital tackle on the sniping Donkin as he threatened to break clear.
There was the inevitable late rally by Wharfedale, but some strong scrummaging kept them out as the Yorkshiremen tried to breach the line - Ollie Viney then launched a breakaway and just missed out with a clever kick-ahead.
Viney; Spragg, C Briers (S Briers, 75) Barrow, Brennand; Johnson, Wallwork (Webb, 62); Birchall, Rylance (Burtonwood, 76) Altham (Griffiths, 60) Arnold, Gore, Robinson, Vernon, Stewart (Maher, 65)