Off-colour Fylde see unbeaten record fall

Fylde v Sedgley Park - rugby. Pictured is Chris Briers.
Fylde v Sedgley Park - rugby. Pictured is Chris Briers.
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Blaydon 33, Fylde 17

Fylde fought hard but could have no complaints about losing their 100 per cent National One record at Crow Trees.

Their five-match winning run was ended by a Blaydon side who were direct, streetwise and edged the crucial battle up front, with their back-row ruling the roost.

History was always against the Lancastrians, who had also lost the previous four games at this ground.

Fylde centre Chris Briers’ straight red card in the 62nd minute didn’t help the cause, but wasn’t the determining feature of the game.

Fylde were only 19-17 down at that stage, but were already struggling to stem the flow of Blaydon attacks.

Little went right for the visitors in a second period littered with poor decision-making, forward passes and silly mistakes.

And the Blaydon back-row of Rob Bell, Ben Morris and Jason Smithson were all over Fylde at the breakdown like a rash.

The first half was an exciting exhibition of open play by both sides.

On seven minutes, Fylde were awarded a penalty within kickable range, but decided to take a quick tap instead.

Their ball was turned over and the Blaydon half-backs spun it wide on their own 22-metre line.

With the Fylde defence out of position, winger Fraser Wilson raced 70 metres down the left, just beating full-back Richard Kenyon’s tackle and scoring. Fly-half Baggett converted for a 7-0 lead.

Two minutes later, back came Fylde as centre Mike Waywell broke the defensive line, chipped ahead and was deliberately tripped.

But winger Oli Brennand got to the ball first and plunged over for an opportunist try. Steve Collins converted and the scores were level.

Fylde were by now matching their opponents in most areas, though the scrummages favoured the home side.

On 18 minutes, they attacked down the left and Brennand created enough space to squirm over in the corner from 25 metres, his seventh try in another productive campaign. Collins converted beautifully from the touchline, and Fylde had a deserved 14-7 lead.

Blaydon attacked eight minutes later only for Baggett to make a mess of a high kick to the corner, slicing it badly.

As Brennand and his opposing winger Clark challenged for the ball, it bounced crazily and fortuitously straight into the hands of surprised full-back Gavin Painter, who rode his luck and scored with ease. Baggett converted and the teams were level once more.

Fylde were working hard to compete at the breakdown, and on 34 minutes mounted an attack deep into Blaydon territory.

A home player offended and Collins kicked an easy penalty to edge Fylde ahead 17-14.

They maintained this lead until a minute before half-time, a noted danger time for Fylde.

As the referee checked his watch, Blaydon created enough space out on their left for winger Wilson to got through an under-populated Fylde defence for his second try. Baggett missed the conversion but his side took a 19-17 lead into the dressing rooms.

Blaydon quickly established dominance of territory and possession in the second half.

They controlled the breakdown area and managed to turn Fylde possession over on several occasions.

However, in the 62nd minute, the visitors launched an attack down the centre and were awarded a penalty in a kickable position.

Away from the play, replacement Blaydon centre Tom Catterick had pinned opposite number Briers to the ground in a wrestling hold, and refused to release him.

Briers took retribution with his fists and paid the ultimate penalty as referee Ian Tempest, on the advice of a assistant referee, brandished a straight red card.

Blaydon now took total control and immediately flooded forward.

It took just a minute for winger Matt Clark to exploit the numerical advantage by twisting his way through some ineffective tackling to score under the posts.

Baggett converted for a 26-17 lead.

Five minutes later, fellow Blaydon winger Fraser Wilson latched on to spilled Fylde ball in midfield and shot 40 metres for a very good try. Baggett converted once more, and Blaydon were out of sight.

Fylde didn’t allow their heads to drop and continued to work hard to create openings.

After one positive forward drive, Kenyon was put clear but, with the try line beckoning, he was called back for a marginal forward pass. It was that kind of day for Fylde.

Fylde: Kenyon; Royle, C Briers, Waywell, Brennand; Collins, Depledge; Livesey, Roddam, Lavelle, Arnold, Rawlings, Ferguson, Thompson, S Beaumont; replacements: Altham, Loney, Wells, Wallwork, S Briers