Fylde 39, Wharfedale 12
THE home side won by six tries to two to underline in the strongest terms – if it was needed – that Fylde have, in a few short weeks, become a force to be reckoned with in National League One.
That is shown by the league table, which shows Fylde and Macclesfield as the only teams with the maximum points after three games.
Though their attacking prowess faded markedly in the closing stages, they had done all the hard work earlier, subduing a side who have been a fixture at this level for 16 consecutive seasons.
Oli Brennand will get star billing for his hat-trick, but there were other splendid performances, with Cameron Thompson making a spectacular entrance, and looking a hugely promising back row forward.
In addition, Steve Depledge has plenty of know-how and used it to the maximum as an influential scrum-half.
On a sultry day, Fylde were on the offensive straight away, Nick Royle released by a neat Gareth Rawlings pass.
Royle had the defence at full stretch, but a last-ditch tackle on centre Chris Briers retrieved the situation for Wharfedale.
All the early play was in Wharfedale terrain, and Fylde’s possession paid dividends after eight minutes.
After winning a line-out, the home pack powered forward, and Mark Stephenson got the decisive final touch for the opening try, which went unconverted.
The Greens hit back after Royle conceded a penalty, and Andrew Hodgson cut through to level the scores, Richard Kenyon committing the error of going for the interception rather than tackling his man.
A Steve Collins penalty in front of the posts restored Fylde’s lead on the quarter-hour.
Brennand threatened with a mazy, speedy run down the left, but Fylde wasted an excellent opportunity as they failed to put the ball in straight at a line-out with the visitors under real pressure.
However, Fylde kept pounding away and Thompson, on as a replacement for the injured Stephenson, was awarded a try after the officials had conferred over the grounding. Collins followed it up with a superb conversion from way out.
Fylde claimed their third try within two minutes, as Brennand scooted over in spectacular fashion after starting his run from around halfway.
Again Collins augmented it with a belter of a kick from wide out to make it 20-5, in what was developing into another entertaining match for the Woodlands faithful.
A superb move, instigated by eye-catching flanker Thompson, saw the ball moved beautifully down the line to Royle, whose chip was too heavy, and he just failed to follow up for the touchdown.
Thompson released Depledge with another inventive flurry, but the half-back was crowded out by the sliding Wharfedale defence.
Royle had another sniff from Kenyon’s cross-kick, but Wharfedale’s Philip Woodhead just beat him to it.
The first half ended with Fylde continuing to put the Wharfedale defence under serious duress, forcing the visitors to concede a couple of penalties.
Fylde broke and Collins skipped through from close range to claim his side’s bonus-point try. The same player missed the target with his kick, meaning the home side led 27-5 at the break.
Within two minutes of the restart, Fylde stretched their lead as that man Thompson presented Brennand with a peach of a pass on the outside. The home wing needed no second invitation to streak in at the corner flag.
Play got scrappy for a while as Wharfedale camped on the Fylde line for a good five minutes, but were repelled by some stubborn defence.
Brennand claimed his hat-trick after 58 minutes, as Fylde broke superbly from deep. Thompson was again at the heart of it, and when Royle kicked ahead cleverly, there was only going to be one winner. Brennand outpaced the cover and Collins added the goal.
Royle was yellow-carded 10 minutes from time after Fylde had conceded several penalties for offside.
The tempo sagged in the closing stages, with Wharfedale enjoying a lot of the play and Fylde’s attacks fizzling out, safe in the knowledge there was no way back for the visitors.
Wharfedale claimed some slight consolation with a penalty try, goaled from his hands by Tom Barrett.
Fylde: Kenyon; Royle, C Briers, Waywell, Brennand; Collins, Depledge (McShane, 70); P Altham (Holmes, 59) Loney, Lavelle (Griffiths, 38) J Beaumont, Rawlings (Arnold, 59) Stephenson (Thompson,11) Stewart, S Beaumont.