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Home > News > Fylde 35 - Halifax 17
Your News Fylde 35 - Halifax 17

Fylde notched their first away win of the season when, with a strong 2nd half performance during which they scored 20 points, they beat off the challenge of a gritty and able Halifax team by 35-17 at Ovenden Park.

Behind by 15-17 at the interval, Fylde scored three good 2nd half tries to clinch the game. If the final score slightly flattered the visitors then they were clearly the better side on the day. But this was no stroll in the park for the Woodlands side who hardly need to be told that this National Three (North) division is once more a very combative league in which there are few easy games.

Halifax certainly belied their bottom of the league position in an impressive start to the game by taking the contest to the visitors who were playing with the benefit of the Ovenden Park slope but into a gusty wind. But on 8 minutes Fylde hit back and when a Halifax player infringed at the tackle breakdown Steve Nutt converted the consequential penalty kick for a 3-0 lead. This was negated three minutes later when a similar offence at the other end of the pitch allowed Halifax fly-half Ian Gordon to level the scores.

The play was end to end, with both teams trying to play open rugby despite the damp conditions and rather heavy pitch. From a lineout 10 metres out from the 'Fax line, Fylde's pack set up a driving maul. The new Experimental Laws have made mauls an endangered species as opponents can collapse them at will. But this one was very well constructed and flanker Dan Bowman was driven over for Fylde's opening try. Nutt's attempted conversion went wide but his side had a 8-3 lead.

Although Halifax have lost some of their players as a result of being relegated from National Division Two last season, they've still got a core of talented players and who are very streetwise. The return of former Premiership player Craig Emmerson to his home club has also boosted their backline and he was to play an important part in his side's opening try on 24 minutes. Halifax moved the ball smartly through their backs and a clever offload and loop saw experienced winger Ollie Marns race into the corner for a very good try. Gordon kicked an excellent conversion and the home side were ahead by 10-8.

Their lead was, however, shortlived. From the restart Fylde's no 8 Sam Beaumont caught the ball cleanly and drove into the opposition forwards. The ball was then moved quickly by scrum-half and former 'Fax player Craig Aikman to Nutt to centre Neil Hunter. The big former Waterloo centre broke an attempted tackle, raced clear and with a lovely delayed pass set up fellow centre Tom Albinson who scored under the posts. Nutt converted and Fylde were back in front at 15-10.

Both teams were playing simple and effective rugby and it was a good spectacle for the small crowd. Although Fylde were just about on top in terms of territory and possession, the battling Halifax side were always well in the contest. Due to a number of injury breaks, referee Ian Robinson played eight minutes of injury time. Deep into this period Halifax again moved the ball skillfully along their backline and winger Gareth Brear carved through the visitors' defence for an excellent try. Gordon converted and Halifax took a surprising lead of 17-15 into the dressing rooms at half-time.

Fylde were fired up by Director of Rugby Mark Nelson's half-time pep talk and they controlled the play at the beginning of the third quarter. On 48 minutes following a series of penalties against Halifax, referee Robinson tired of the indiscipline and yellow carded fullback Danny McGee for infringement. Steve Nutt kicked the subsequent penalty and his side regained a lead they never relinquished.

On 57 minutes came the crucial moment of the game. Fylde set up a sweeping move by their backline and the ball reached winger Oliver Brennand on the left. Last year's top try scorer in the division is always dangerous in broken play and he set off on a trademark run before passing to the cleverly supporting fullback Martin Wallwork who in turn linked with Albinson and the young centre finished off the move in style. The former Sedgley Tiger was having a fine game in only his third appearance in the claret & gold. Nutt's conversion was successful and Fylde had established a vital 25-17 lead.

Fylde replaced prop Sam Simpson with Andrew Irving and the young, massive Cumbrian went on to make a useful contribution.

Halifax's players certainly didn't let their heads drop at the deficit and they fought their way back downfield. They missed a chance to narrow the score on 65 minutes when an attempted penalty kick by Ian Gordon hit the post and bounced back into play before being cleared by a defending Fylde player.

The next 15 minutes was a stalemate as Fylde held on to their 8 point lead and Halifax tried to wrestle their way back into the game. Fylde prop Darren Clark had been struggling with a worrying shoulder injury and had to be replaced by the returning Simpson on 75 minutes. Only in the last minute of injury time did Fylde make the game safe. They moved the ball left in broken play and Oliver Brennand skipped free and raced into the left corner for a good try which also meant a bonus point for the visitors. It was Brennand's fourth try of the league season. Nutt conversion failed but Fylde had established an unbeatable 30-17 lead.

To rub salt in the wounds, Brennand's Arnold School pal Sam Beaumont, then found space himself down the left and scored his third try of the new season. Nutt's attempted conversion again went wide and a final score of 35-17 rather flattered the Lancastrians. Halifax were always combative and surely won't have to wait very much longer for their first win of the season.

The bonus point win puts Fylde on equal points with Macclesfield, Leicester Lions & Caldy at the top of N3N but ranked 4th on number of wins and then points difference.

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