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Home > News > Huddersfield edge home against Fylde
Your News Huddersfield edge home against Fylde

Fyldes three match unbeaten run came to a windy conclusion at Lockwood Park when they went down by 15-22 to a resolute Huddersfield side. With the gale at their backs in the 1st half they failed to use the elements sufficiently. Huddersfield made them pay for this profligacy with a cold eyed ruthlessness after the interval and showed that they will be formidable opponents in this their second season in the National Leagues. Field maintained their 3rd place pursuit of leading promotion contenders Macclesfield & Caldy whilst Fylde will take some consolation from the last minute losing bonus point they snatched. They stay in 6th place in the division, just five points off the leaders and still well in contention.

Fylde kicked off with the tricky wind mainly behind them but also swirling around the magnificent railway viaduct which dominates the skyline at this attractively sited ground. They made an inauspicious start when, following an even first 15 minutes, Huddersfield won a lineout near the visitors try line. Field secured their own lineout ball, as they did throughout the match, and set up a powerful driving maul which ended with lock Ben Harris claiming the try. Fly-half Chris Johnson, leading scorer in the division, had a mixed afternoon with the boot and hit the posts with the conversion attempt. But his side had a 5-0 lead which lasted but four minutes.

On 19 minutes a Huddersfield player was stripped of the ball in midfield and Fylde launched a simple but effective move left through their backs. The ball reached productive winger Oli Brennand and he raced away from the cover defence for a fine opportunistic try. Fylde fly-half Tom Barlow showed his opposite number how its done and added the conversion for a 7-5 lead.

Fylde had a reasonable amount of possession in the second quarter of the match but rather squandered it as they struggled to break down the Huddersfield defence. Some indifferent in-field kicking didnt help their cause as the home side eagerly ran the ball back at them. Winger Matt Gargett, who had received a late call up to the Fylde squad when Mike Waywell pulled out with a knee problem on the morning of the game, made a couple of useful breaks but generally the visiting backs found it hard to make significant progress despite Tom Barlow running the game well for his side.

When Huddersfield try scorer Harris offended at the tackle breakdown on 27 minutes he was yellow carded for his trouble. Barlow kicked the subsequent penalty and Fylde extended their lead to 10-5. With the extra man and the wind at their backs this should have been an opportunity for Fylde to increase the intensity of their game and take a decent lead into the interval. But this was not the case as the visitors struggled to gain any significant advantage in what turned out to be a crucial period of the game.

Whilst the Fylde scrummaging was always stronger and they were competitive in the loose, they could make little impression on a dominant Huddersfield lineout.

Experienced referee Andrew Vertigan, an ordained vicar, had his work cut out to maintain saintly order on the pitch as the match turned niggly with some increasingly fierce contact on and off the ball. There was a particularly flinty battle between the two scrum-halves, Fylde skipper Craig Aikman and Huddersfields Damian Clayton. As they clashed in the last minute of the half the referee had had enough and told both to cool off in the sinbin. Johnson kicked the resultant penalty and Huddersfield had reduced the deficit to 8-10 as the referee immediately blew for the end of the half.

The 2nd half was dominated by Huddersfield as they took control of the contest. After nine minutes they pressured the Fylde line and their impressive no 8 Nick Sharpe took advantage of a missed tackle to barrel over from close range for a try. Chris Johnson converted and Field had established a decisive 15-10 lead they werent to lose. The Fylde pack worked hard to get an equal share of possession but struggled to use this, partly due to Mr Vertigans interpretation of the laws on the driving maul.

By now, veteran prop Matt Filipo had been replaced by backrower Grant Ferguson as Fylde coach Mark Nelson re-jigged his pack formation with Adam Lewis reverting to prop and makeshift though impressive flanker Johnny Roddam to hooker. Filipo was soon joined on the sidelines by lock Nick King who was suffering from his troublesome arm injury. Prop Martin Macreavey made a rare appearance in his place and didn't let the side down in any way.

The moment that decided the fate of the game came on 66 minutes. Fylde were inside their own half when their high clearance kick was caught in the wind and sailed backwards. Johnson caught the ball and fed flanker and skipper Mark Whitehead who cantered in for the try near the posts for a soft try. Johnson converted and Field were almost out of sight with a 22-10 lead.

But this is a gutsy Fylde squad and, despite their disappointing 2nd half performance, their heads didnt drop and they fought hard to rescue something from the match. It took until the last minute when they were finally able to get what has proved an effective driving maul this season working in this game. As the maul edged towards the Huddersfield line almost all the Fylde players joined it and finally prop Andrew Irving emerged to claim the touch down. Although Tom Barlow couldnt make the conversion kicking from the wrong side for a right footed kicker and into the strong wind, it mattered little as Fylde had picked up the losing bonus point which looked unlikely for much of the half.

This was a feisty contest that always had interest if not flowing rugby.

Fylde Director of Rugby Mark Nelson said: This was another good performance by Fylde against the odds. Frequent injuries and referees interpretations of the laws are proving difficult for us this season. Huddersfield are a good side and they played to the referee better than we did. I believe that they dropped mauls illegally and entered rucks from the side but the Mr Vertigan didnt agree, although I have a lot of respect for him generally. Im a very experienced coach and have had Premiership exposure. Maybe Im too technical in my approach but I disagree with some of the interpretations of the new laws by officials.

We made three crucial mistakes and were punished for all of them. Its to Huddersfields credit that they exploited these well. We must strive to play more error-free rugby. The forwards were excellent and Tom Barlow exercised good control at 10.

The only predictable thing about this division this season is its unpredictability. Some people came up to me after the game and said that well hammer Bradford next week as theyre towards the bottom of the table. But there are no gimmies in N2N and we will have to work very hard to get back to winning ways.

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