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Home > News > Fylde edge win against brave Macclesfield
Your News Fylde edge win against brave Macclesfield

Fylde made hard work of beating Macclesfield by 12-10 at the Woodlands on Saturday. Two excellent tries in the last few minutes of the first half by wingers Nick Royle and Oliver Brennand hardly reflected Fylde's superiority over 40 minutes.

But the 2nd half was a different story as Macc fought back fiercely and put sustained pressure on the home defence. Whilst the Macc forwards' mauling oriented game was limited then it was mighty effective. A good try by winger Chris Jones reduced the deficit on 49 minutes and Ross Winney ensured a losing bonus point with a penalty. If Macc had got anything like parity in the lineouts then it might have been a different story. However, as far as the home side is concerned, a win is a win. By missing out on a bonus point, Fylde slip down to 7th position in National Three (North), equal on points with Rugby Lions and Harrogate. But they did reduce the deficit between themselves and the club in the play-off position, now Darlington Mowden Park, to eight points with five matches left before the end of the season.

Macclesfield started the game in surprisingly confident mood and for the first eight minutes they retained possession very well. By the 10th minute Fylde took control and pressed the visitors across the pitch. Their powerful pack was more than willing to take on Macclesfield's direct physical challenge. Throughout the game they had the edge in the tight exchanges and their line-out was much more reliable than the visitors'.

Fylde's half-backs didn't move the ball too wide and looked to kick for territory or go back inside for the forwards to take the play on. Oliver Brennand sniped dangerously down the Fylde left on a few occasions and Nick Royle had one or two bursts.

On 20 minutes Fylde put together the best move of the game to that point when hoooker Alan Holmes burst through the Macc defence. He was pulled down 30 metres out but fed the ball to the fast supporting Richard Kenyon. He passed to a supporting colleague only 5m from the Macc line but the pass was rather harshly judged as forward.

In another Fylde attack, fly-half Neil Hunter chipped beautifully ahead to the left corner and Oliver Brenannd caught the ball on the full and at pace. It looked like a certain try but referee Dave Edmunds rather harshly ruled that Brennand had been in front of the kicker and penalised the home side.

As the half-time interval approached it looked a distinct possibility that the sides would go in at 0-0, an extraordinary situation on a fine but cold day. But on 37 minutes the little magician Craig Aikman broke away 45 metres out and burst up to Macclesfield's 22m line. As the last defender closed in he passed delicately right to the fast supporting Nick Royle who cruised in for his 14th try of the season. John Armstrong's attempted conversion from near the touchline drifted wide but Fylde had a 5-0 lead.

Just on the half time whistle Fylde moved the ball down their left through the hands of their three quarters. Centre Paul Reeves straightened the line and passed to left wing Oliver Brennand 20 metres out. With no room to work in, Brennand did his usual trick of shrugging off a couple of attempted tacklers and raced along the touchline. He powered through the final defender and went in for his 23rd try of the season. Armstrong converted well and Fylde had a totally deserved but, in the circumstances, rather surprising 12-0 lead. In terms of territory and possession it could have been a 25 point lead but equally it might have been 0-0.

The second half turned out to be a tense though frustrating affair. Macc upped the intensity of their play and were scrapping for possession all over the pitch. They used their competitive pack very effectively, especially in loose play. On 49 minutes the complexion of the game totally changed when Macclesfield attacked down their right 40 metres out from the Fylde line. Their left winger, the big and powerful Chris Jones, came into the line and burst through some weak midfield tackling and raced over for a very welcome and timely try for his side. Ross Winney converted easily and the deficit was now down to 7-12.

Both Fylde and Macclesfield suffered somewhat in building continuity due to a glut of blood injuries. Fylde lock Nick King was forced off in the 1st half and again in the 2nd period, and winger Nick Royle followed him to the medical room after 44 minutes. Greg Johnson & Lewis Boyd replaced them temporarily. Impressive Macc openside flanker Daniel Baines also required attention during two spells away from the action.

Referee Edmunds, like so many officials currently, was very harsh at scrummages and neutralised one of Fylde's significant advantages. They occasionally drove the Macc pack backwards but were frequently penalised for pushing too early or other technical offences. The penalty count was by now laughably against Fylde. Time and again they incurred the referee's displeasure. With about 20 minutes to go, he penalised Macclesfield and the crowd was so surprised that they cheered loudly and sarcastically.

Fylde allowed themselves to be sucked into the hand to hand combat tactics of their opponents. They secured insufficient possession and when they did get the ball they went down various blind alleys. They hardly brought their wingers into the action during the final 40 minutes. However, fly-half Neil Hunter used the wind very effectively throughout with some siege gun left footed kicks to touch.

On 68 minutes a Fylde player was penalised 30 metres out from their line and Winney kicked a straightforward penalty to take the scores to 10-12. This score came at the end of sustained Macc pressure inside the Fylde 22m area. They defended very well but it was tense stuff.

For the last ten minutes the home side regained control and retained possession well with a series of drives inside the Macc half. If they didn't threaten the Macclesfield line they at least neutralised the by now exhausted visiting pack. The Macc forwards had played very well in the 2nd period and battled so hard to get what would have been a vital win for the Cheshire club. But as the referee's whistle blew for the end of the game there wasn't a great deal of jubilation on show. The Fylde players were disappointed at their 2nd half performance and realised that they should have done more to have built on the foundations of a 12-0 half-time lead.

Macc at least had the benefit of a well deserved losing bonus point to assist them in their desperate battle against relegation. Most observers at the Woodlands yesterday believed that they have the quality to earn a late reprieve but it will be extremely hard work in the next five weeks if they're to save their national league status. For the benefit of North West rugby, let's hope they do.

For Fylde, hooker Alan Holmes was deservedly selected as their man of the match. He was helped by strong performances by fellow forwards Nick King, Sam Beaumont & Darren Clark. Amongst the backs, scrum-half Craig Aikman looked the class player he is and half-back partner Neil Hunter is gradually settling down and warming to the task.

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