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Home > News > Fylde 62 - Harrogate 13
Your News Fylde 62 - Harrogate 13

Fylde gave their best performance of the season in a stellar ten try, 62-13 display at the Woodlands. A large crowd purred their collective delight at the fine running rugby on offer. The Lancastrians have now scored 31 tries in six games and at an average of 38 points per match. Only injuries to three of their backs took the gloss off a gentle autumn afternoon on the Lancashire coast.

The afternoon started in the worst possible way when centre Neil Hunter injured his ankle in the warm-up and was replaced by David Wiseman. As Wiseman was the only back amongst the substitutes, Mike Waywell was called up to the bench despite having failed a fitness test on a foot injury an hour earlier. As it turned out, this was a wise decision and the afternoon ended successfully for Waywell.

As has become so familiar this season, Fylde started with a rush and took the lead on 5 minutes. The home pack powered into the Harrogate 22m area and won a scrum 10m out from the visitors' line. No 8 Sam Beaumont broke from the back of the scrummage and fed scrum-half Craig Aikman. The former England Counties player saw a yawning gap in the defence and dived through for a smart try. Steve Nutt converted and Fylde had a 7-0 lead.

Four minutes later, the Fylde backs attacked centre field and the ball reached Nick Royle. The right winger cut back inside to get within 5m of the 'Gate line and offloaded to the supporting Nutt who scored easily. He failed to convert his own try but Fylde were 12-0 ahead. Another five minutes and the home side scored once more. The ball was moved along the Fylde backline some 40m out and eventually reached Oli Brennand. The left winger cut along the touchline and skipped around the last defender for his fifth try of the season. Nutt converted and Fylde had a 19-0 lead and only 15 minutes had passed.

The course of the match was looking rather embarrassing for a Harrogate side who had started the season with three straight wins. However, they immediately came back strongly by attacking inside the Fylde 22m line. Fylde won a lineout but David Wiseman's clearance kick was charged down by 'Gate lock Peter Corner. He cleverly dribbled the ball over the Fylde goal line and dropped on the ball for his side's opening try. Fly-half James Murray missed the conversion but made up for it on 25 minutes when he converted a penalty to reduce the deficit to 8-19.

Fylde had pretty much total control if the forward battle. In particular, they murdered the Harrogate scrummage from the opening tight exchange. On Harrogate's own scrummage ball, the visitors' pack was being shunted back at a rate of knots. It was hard not to feel sorry for no 8 Richard Beck who was standing in for the influential Ryan Peacey as he had such difficult ball to contend with. It seemed to undermine the 'Gate challenge fatally as the home side also dominated the tackle breakdown area.

And Fylde were happy to use this scrummage dominance in the most positive way. They spurned penalty kicks at goal and chose to scrummage. Indeed, this was to turn out a unique match in the Club's league history as they didn't attempt one penalty kick at goal during the game despite having a number of chances.

On 32 minutes referee Mark Liddell tired of Harrogate's offending at the breakdown and yellow carded blindside flanker Dan Harland. From the consequential penalty the inevitable happened as Fylde opted for the scrummage 10m out from the 'Gate line and simply drove over the line for no 8 Beaumont to fall on the ball and notch up Fylde's fourth and bonus scoring try. It was also Beaumont's fourth try of the new campaign.

Just before the half-time break, Fylde launched another attack down their left 50m out. Centre Tom Albinson floated a lovely long pass to winger Brennand and the young flyer set off on yet another electric burst down the touchline. He broke one tackle and, as the final Harrogate defender raced across to cover, he turned on the afterburners on the outside and dived over in the corner for an outstanding try. Nutt's attempted conversion drifted wide yet his side took a 31-8 lead into the changing rooms.

Whilst this looked a decisive advantage, Fylde didn't help themselves in the first minute of the second period. Steve Nutt delayed his clearance kick near his own line and Harrogate skipper and fullback Ed Smithies charged it down and scored a simple try. Giving a try away from a charge down is one thing, gifting two in a game is something else. Murray missed the conversion but 'Gate now only trailed by 13-31. As it turned out, that was to be the closest they got during the rest of the game.

There followed a period of stalemate as Fylde seemed happy to sit on their lead and consolidate whilst Harrogate still struggled for anything like parity in the forward struggle. Fylde's loss of the excellent flanker Dave Wilks and centre Tom Albinson on 58 minutes didn't help their continuity. Waywell replaced Albinson and Dan Palmer came on for Wilks. It was to be inside the final quarter before Fylde rediscovered their try scoring form and broke loose with a dramatic spell of five tries in 15 minutes.

First of all, Fylde man of the match, flanker Dan Bowman stormed into the heart of the Harrogate defence. Quick transference of the ball saw centre David Wiseman race through an absent 'Gate defence to go under the posts. Nutt's conversion made the score 38-13. The Harrogate players by now looked dejected and their defence fell to pieces. Only two minutes later Cumbrian county skipper Bowman was at it again. He received the ball 30m out and raced clear to score an excellent try, once again converted by Nutt. The rest of Fylde's replacements - prop Andrew Irving, hooker Chris Tyms & lock Grant Ferguson - were by now all called into the action.

Fylde's top try scorer Nick Royle had had some runs and had set up Nutt's try early in the match. But his contribution was to come to the fore in the last five minutes of the game. First, on 75 minutes, he burst through along the right touchline, breaking a number of tackles before being caught near the try line. But a lovely back of the hand offload to the supporting Waywell saw the young fullback just get the ball down in the very corner for his side's 8th try.

Royle then took matters even more directly into his own hands. He was by now following the ball all over the pitch and appeared twice down the left. The first on 78 minutes saw him break clear to outrun the despairing defenders. Two minutes later it was a repeat effort as he sped past and through several half hearted tackles and dived over in the corner for a splendid effort.

All in all, this was a fine team effort from Fylde who, after a rather hesitant start to the season, are now warming to their task and fulfilling the pundits' as promotion candidates. Whilst their backs got the glory with eight tries, it was the pack that was so outstanding. The Harrogate performance was extremely disappointing. Their talented backs such as Nick Wainwright, player-coach Mike Aspinall and skipper Ed Smithies had so little to work with as their forwards earned so little possession.

The Fylde front five were rock solid and the destructive scrummaging of props Darren Clark & Sam Simpson was a decisive factor. The backrow of Wilks, Bowman, Beaumont and replacement Palmer is proving increasingly convincing match by match. Whilst it wasn't a faultless performance by any means - there were too many handling mistakes for that - it was nevertheless the most positive statement to the rest of the division.

The crowd was a good size but surely this kind of display of exciting, running rugby will surely entice even more rugby supporters to the Woodlands.

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