Wilkinson's brace helps Fylde to a battling win
An intense and determined performance saw Fylde outscore Esher by four tries to three for a 26-20, bonus point victory.
The match started, however, with the visitors losing Isaac Curtis-Harris and Cameron Gentiles.
Both trooped off in the second minute to be replaced by Cameron Leigh and Oliver Marriott.
These setbacks didn’t appear to deter the visitors one jot as they attacked the Fylde line aggressively and opened the scoring immediately.
They pressed down the centre, tied in Fylde defenders and then moved the ball down their right and winger Tom James squeezed in at the corner.
Fly-half Paul Roberts converted beautifully from the touchline for a 7-0 lead.
Fylde came back immediately when they earned a lineout 20 metres from the Esher line.
Clean lineout ball was secured before it was cleverly switched back to hooker Tom Burtonwood who drove over the line.
It was Esher’s turn to exert pressure and referee Matt Turvey began to penalise Fylde for offences at the tackle breakdown.
Roberts missed a straightforward penalty kick in the 13th minute but two minutes later, from a similar position, made no mistake to extend Esher’s lead to 10-5. It took Fylde just a few minutes to respond in the best possible way.
David Fairbrother broke a couple of tackles inside the Esher half before passing neatly to the fast supporting Connor Wilkinson, who finished off the move with a clean burst to the line.
Greg Smith converted and Fylde were in the lead for the first time at 12-10.
The third quarter of the game was very different. Fylde earned more possession and began to run through their attacking tricks.
A home score looked likely and, in the 52nd minute, it came when Jordan Dorrington skipped past defenders for a fine try, Smith converting.
It took them just four minutes later to extend their lead.
Smith made a crucial break from halfway and found Wilkinson, who needed no invitation to race away for a crucial try with Smith adding the extras.
Back came Esher as Spencer crossed in the 59th minute before James set up a nervous finish with his second try on 74 minutes but Fylde held their own despite late pressure.