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Home > News > Fylde 41 - Preston Grasshoppers 25
Your News Fylde 41 - Preston Grasshoppers 25

At half time few spectators in National Three Norths biggest crowd of the season (1,050) at a sunny and breezy Woodlands could remember a Fylde v Hoppers derby like it. Loads of open play, six tries shared equally and Preston going into the break with a deserved 25-22 lead. But the 2nd half was a different story as Fylde completely dominated their bigger, bulkier and less fit opponents who were unable to add to their score. Three more Fylde tries and a final score of 41-25 emphasised their superiority.

For the first eight minutes of the game Hoppers didnt let Fylde get their hands on the ball. Centre Phil Whyte opened the scoring with a neat dropped goal on four minutes. Fylde came back as winger Oliver Brennand broke down the left and linked with fly-half Steve Nutt who touched down. He missed the conversion but his side had a 5-3 lead. Five minutes later the home defence got into a tangle as Hoppers launched a neat move down their left. Whyte put huge winger Russell Flynn away and he stormed 40m for a good try. Fly-half Jackson converted and Hoppers were 10-5 up.

Fylde skipper and scrum-half Craig Aikman was having a fine game. He was sniping around the fringes of scrums and mauls and from one run he twisted and turned before getting the touch down, with a Nutt conversion to follow.

Jackson & Nutt exchanged penalties as the play switched from end to end. Hoppers released Flynn once more on 32 minutes and he shrugged off a couple of tackles for another good try. Back came Fylde and three minutes later following a scrummage 20m out from the Hoppers line, Nutt ghosted through a non-existent visiting defence. He added the conversion and Fylde were back in front at 22-18.

With Fylde turning off their concentration, as so often this season just before the break, Hoppers launched another attack down their left and a beautiful little pass by centre Steffan Thomas put Whyte through a big hole in the Fylde defence and he scored with ease. Jackson converted and his side took a 25-22 lead into the dressing rooms.

The 2nd half was completely different as the Fylde pack upped the ante. On 50 minutes, Artful Dodger Aikman, shading a close contest with Hoppers skipper & rival for the Lancashire no 9 slot, Darren Wilson, darted through once more to score a crucial try. Nutt converted and Fylde had regained the lead at 29-25.

Throughout, the forward exchanges in scrummages and lineouts were pretty even. But Fylde had the advantage in loose play with the backrow in general and flanker Dave Wilks in particular having a fine game in attack and defence.

Fylde were by now attacking from virtually anywhere, and in a more controlled way than in the frantic 1st half. After 60 minutes their backs moved left and Richard Kenyon put Brennand in the clear only for referee Reid to bring back play for a marginally forward pass.

Fyldes other star winger Nick Royle had a very quiet 1st half apart from struggling to keep Flynn under control. In what is likely to be his last game in the claret & gold, he then took over with two brilliant pieces of opportunism to notch his 91st & 92nd tries in only his 83rd match for the Woodlands club. First of all, as Hoppers moved the ball left in midfield he read a telegraphed pass and intercepted to burst through and go under the posts. Nutt converted and Fylde had gone clear by 36-25.

With their pack dominating possession and territory against their bigger opponents, Aikman & Nutt were able to control the play. On 73 minutes the Fylde backs again went right and the ball reached Royle. He ran 20m and chipped over the first line of the Preston defence. Two more defenders waited for the ball to drop but, to their amazement, Royle brushed them aside and caught the ball to score brilliantly near the posts. Despite Nutt missing the straightforward conversion he had a personal haul of 21 points and his side a 41-25 lead which they held with confidence until the final whistle.

The home supporters in the big crowd cheered their teams last home performance of a free scoring season. Results elsewhere meant that Fylde moved up to 2nd place in the division, normally sufficient to earn a promotion play-off place. With the planned league restructuring, leaders Nuneaton look certain to be the only promoted club this season. 2008/9 will go down, like the last campaign, as so close but not quite enough. But this was entertaining fare and a suitable way to wind up the Woodlands season.

With a crowd of over 1,000, good weather, many former players reliving past memories, loads of young players and their parents enjoying the Woodlands atmosphere and the Clubhouse food and drink tills working overtime, there didn't appear to be much wrong with rugby union in this part of Lancashire.

FYLDE: Wallwork, Royle, Kenyon, Albinson, Brennand, Nutt, Aikman, Lewis (Filipo 68), Holmes, Irving, Atkinson, Ferguson (Bowman 53), Palmer (Stephenson 64), Wilks, Beaumont. Subs not used: Hunter & Wiseman.

Tries: Nutt 9, 35. Aikman 18, 50. Royle 62, 73. Conversions: Nutt x4. Penalties: Nutt 27.

PRESTON GRASSHOPPERS: McKenna; Hughes, Whyte, Thomas, Flynn; Jackson (Jones 74), Wilson (Ball 74); Hanson (Peterson 45), Sands (Stone 65), Carleton, Rigbye, Steele, Imiolek (Morton 65), Dewhurst, Dockray.

Tries: Flynn 15, 32. Whyte 42. Conversions: Jackson x2 Penalties: Jackson 23. Dropped goals: Whyte 4.

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