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Home > News > Fylde 27 - Nuneaton 27
Your News Fylde 27 - Nuneaton 27

This exciting, cut and thrust National Three (North) game ended in an extraordinary fashion. Fylde, 9-21 down at half-time, fought their way back in the 2nd period to lead by 27-24 with ten minutes to go. A 74th minute penalty by Nuns' outstanding scrum-half Huw Thomas levelled the scores. Then, in the last minute of injury time with Fylde pressing inside the Nuns' 22m line, a visiting forward killed the ball and referee Marcus Caton, to the despair of the Nuns' officials, players and supporters, blew up for a penalty. Fylde fly-half Steve Nutt stepped up to kick the goal from in front of the posts, 25m out, to win the game. The experienced former Moseley, Waterloo & Sedgley player amazingly sent the ball wide of the uprights and the game was over.

Nuneaton deserved the draw despite losing the plot in the third quarter of the game when two excellent tries from Fylde winger Oli Brennand, both in the left corner, appeared to have won the game for the Lancastrians. Nuneaton had more fluent backs but the Fylde forwards had a noticeable advantage in the tight exchanges. The Fylde front row of Sam Simpson, Alan Holmes & Darren Clark put their opponents under great pressure

The game began with Fylde taking the immediate initiative. The interplay between forwards and backs was good and Nuns were forced into desperate tactics to keep the home side from scoring. Two straightforward penalties were converted by Steve Nutt and his side had a 6-0 lead after 7 minutes. One of many more penalties given by Mr Caton that littered the game this time went in favour of Nuns and Thomas kicked it to reduce the deficit.

Nuns then had a purple patch which ripped Fylde's falltering defence apart. Good continuity between backs and forwards sucked in the Fylde defence and the ball was moved smartly to winger Will Cave who scored a smart try down their right. Thomas converted well and Nuns had a lead which they held on to until, it turned out, the 60th minute. Thomas rubbed salt into Fylde's wounds when he kicked another penalty on 18 minutes and Nuns were 13-6 in front.

When Fylde were able to release wingers Nick Royle and Brennand they looked very dangerous and caused Nuns real problems. Royle was marshalled very closely by two players but this gave space to wing colleague Brennand. Nutt reduced the arrears after 22 minutes when he kicked his third penalty. But the second quarter of the game was a struggle for the home side as Nuns played sound possession rugby orchestrated by the excellent Rob Cook at fly-half. Normally a fullback, he formed an exemplary half-back partnership with Huw Thomas.

The red headed Nuns scrum-half is obviously multi talented. Not only did he make a substantial contribution as a player but he also tried to referee the game at the same time. He extended his side's lead on 29 minutes when he kicked another penalty goal. At least two of these kicks were awarded for Fylde's backs curiously drifting offside in positions of no particular advantage.

On 38 minutes Fylde rather foolhardly tried to run the ball from well inside their own half. The ball was turned over by Nuns and they attacked quickly down the right. A missed tackle by a Fylde defender compounded the original error and fullback Mickey Moore scored the try in the corner. This time Thomas missed the conversion but he still led his side into the changing rooms with a fine 21-9 half-time lead.

Whatever was said in the Fylde dressing room at the break was certainly effective as a different team came out for the 2nd half. The Fylde forwards began to exercise control in a more coherent way and the excellent Sam Beaumont at no 8 started to punch holes around the fringes with some driving runs at the heart of the Nuns defence.

When they did get possession in this period Nuns played into the hands of the Fylde backs by some fairly aimless kicking from hand. Brennand had one lovely run up the left but instead of pinning his ears back and going for the corner tried, unsuccessfully, to link up with his supporting scrum-half Craig Aikman and the move broke down.

Another loose Nuns kick followed on 52 minutes, fullback Martin Wallwork cleverly broke upfield, linked with Steve Nutt who gave a sweet pass to Oli Brennand on the left touchline 35 metres out. Spectators familiar with Brennand's play will hardly need to be told more. He skinned his opposing winger and as the cover came across dived into the left corner for a splendid try.

Fylde really upped their game. Although Nutt had missed the conversion of Brennand's try, he kicked a penalty on 56 minutes to bring the deficit down to 17-21.

Then on 60 minutes the ball was worked once again down the Fylde left. Some lovely combination play ended with Wallwork storming through and this time gaving Brennand a rather simpler chance to ground it in the left corner for his second try. Nutt converted beautifully from the touchline and suddenly the home side had a 24-21 lead. Surely the force was now with Fylde.

But this game continued to surprise. Nuns, looking out on their feet, regained a measure of equality in the final quarter. >From a stupid infringement on 64 minutes Fylde gave Thomas a chance to kick a penalty to bring the scores level.

Then the play switched to the other end and it was Nuneaton's turn to earn the displeasure of the referee who penalised them for offside. Nutt kicked a good penalty and Fylde had their noses in front again. Predictably, given the nature of the game, Nuns fought back and another Fylde offence gave Thomas the chance to kick another equalising penalty after 74 minutes. 27-all.

Fylde pressed once again and the rest is history. This was an exciting though error strewn game for the neutral but Nutt's missed kick will be the bitterest memory for a good sized Woodlands crowd. Fylde had a splendid third quarter of the match but were insufficiently consistent. This was a hard debut for new centre Tom Albinson who had had only one training session with which to get familiar with tactics and set moves.

Nun's supporting play, offloading and neat interchange between forwards and backs was impressive and anything other than a draw would have be harsh on the visitors. As one of the Nuns' officials said afterwards, "If we had been offered a draw here at the Woodlands this morning we would have been delighted to have taken it!"

Both clubs are locked together in 6th & 7th position in the N3N league table, each with a win, defeat (both by Leicester Lions) and draw. It's to be expected that both clubs will be pressing harder on the leaders in the next few weeks.

NB It was particularly good for Fylde supporters to see the return to fitness of back five player Grant Ferguson. This immensely talented player has lost more or less two full seasons with a variety of injuries. He last played a full season in 2004/5. In the few minutes that he played on Saturday he caused his usual havoc on opposition lineout ball.

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