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Home > News > Caldy 21 - Fylde 27
Your News Caldy 21 - Fylde 27

From the ridiculous to the sublime. A hopeless performance at Leicester Lions last Saturday, an outstanding win over the powerful National Two (North) league leaders this time. Such is the switchback form of the Woodlands club. Struck heavily by injuries, with Mike Waywell pulling out of the game on Saturday morning, the Fylde players put in a dogged and gritty performance to rattle the full strength Cheshire club.

A strong wind blew diagonally down the Paton Field slope and Fylde had its advantage in the 1st half. Caldy dominated the first 20 minutes of the game, recycling continually and looking for gaps in the visitor's defences. Their very big pack made inroads with mauls and short charges, and their backs looked dangerous when they moved the ball wide, with winger Andrew Soutar illusive.

This was always likely to prove a game of fierce challenges upfront and almost inevitably feisty. Nick King was involved in an early incident and was warned by referee Chris Sharp. He summed up the "thou shall not pass" ethic of the whole team with an intense, snarling performance, exactly what coach Mark Nelson would have asked him to produce. "Get under the skins of the lauded opposition and don't take a backward step". But King did tread a fine line and was yellow carded as early as 13 minutes. From the resulting penalty Caldy upped the pressure inside the Fylde 22m line and it ended with a try scoring burst by the mobile lock Paul Arnold, his ninth of a productive campaign.

Although Richard Vasey's conversion drifted wide, he made amends three minutes later when he slotted a neat dropped goal for a 8-0 lead. It looked like it would be a very long afternoon for the visitors.

Gradually though, Fylde worked their way back into the match. They competed fiercely at the breakdown and prevented Caldy from having easy ball. They began, belatedly, to use the wind with long kicks from Tom Barlow and a superb 70m effort from stand-in fullback Nick Royle. This might have been Royle's debut in that position but he put in a sterling performance in defence and made a few characteristic breaks as the game progressed.

The Caldy pack shaded the line-outs but could do no great damage in the scrummages despite having former Sale Sharks Premiership prop Stuart Turner and the highly rated Gavin Woods in the front row. Fylde's young props Adam Lewis and newcomer Peter Altham stood their ground and put in fine, energetic performances in the loose.

As the Caldy pack were pressured, they began to offend. Tom Barlow's finely struck penalties in the 22nd & 29th minutes reduced the deficit to 6-8. Around the half-hour a player from both sides - Broxson for Caldy, Ollie Moore for Fylde - were forced off through facial and mouth injuries and neither returned. Then, on 34 minutes, Caldy's backs tried to move the ball along the line 30m out from their line. They should have remembered last season's game between the two clubs at the Woodlands. Oliver Brennand made an interception that day in Fylde's 23-22 victory. A looping pass in the wind from a Caldy centre was once again anticipated by the young winger and, via a quick bit of juggling, he sprinted in for the easy try behind the posts. Barlow converted and Fylde had the lead for the first time at 13-8.

As half-time approached it looked likely that a lead of this proportion would be inadequate to defend against the wind in the 2nd period. But one of two critical incidents then happened which swung the game towards the visitors. Fylde attacked again on the Caldy 22m line and the home side had to commit players to the breakdown. Swift passing left along the backline saw Brennand in sufficient space to swerve inside past two defenders to score a lovely try under the posts. Barlow converted and Fylde now had a much more healthy though surprising 20-8 advantage as they went into the changing rooms at half-time.

The 2nd half was never going to be a thing of beauty as the wind continued to blow and the skies darkened - and Fylde set out to defend their lead. Some indeterminate midfield play for 15 minutes showed how fierce was Fylde's determination not to ship easy points. Through the efforts of an energetic backrow Fylde started to win more turnover ball. At the heart of this was debutant flanker Steve McGinnis. The teacher's Stonyhurst College rugby duties have prevented him from starting a game to date this season. He put in a fantastic all-action performance, first to the breakdown, wrestling possession in rucks, driving forward with ball in hand or supporting other runners. He summed up the Fylde resistance.

However, on 55 minutes a Fylde forward transgressed and Vasey kicked a straightforward penalty. Four minutes later Caldy pressurised the Fylde defence and flanker Jake Lyon was driven over for a try. Vasey missed the conversion, an expensive mistake, but the deficit was down to 16-20. Caldy upped the ante as they went for Fylde's jugular. On 62 minutes they attacked down their right and manufactured space out wide for Neil Kerfoot to score a good try in the corner. Vasey's conversion went wide but his side had regained the lead at 21-20. This surely was the end of Fylde's gallant resistence.

But they girded their loins and got back down field to the Caldy 10m line. The excellent, powerful Caldy flanker, John Nugent, was then yellow carded in what was a crucial moment on 70 minutes. Barlow kicked for the corner and a series of driving mauls inched towards the Caldy posts. Down came the maul just short of the line and referee Sharp awarded a penalty try. Barlow converted and Fylde were back in front at 27-21.

Caldy now threw everything into a series of late attacks. They ignored a straightforward penalty kick at goal to go for the scrummage and a win. They drove at the Fylde defence with the bullocking replacement centre Scott Rawlings making ground but always, just, being held by the over stretched Fylde defence. A ball went loose in Caldy's right corner and Nick Royle bravely dived on it. He was rightly carded for not rolling away but in the process was stamped on several times or rucked, depending on your point of view. Once again, caldy could make nothing of the opportunity. A knock on by one of their forwards under pressure from the Fylde defence spoiled their last chance and Fylde cleared downfield before the final whistle blew.

This was a fine, dogged performance by Fylde to beat a much more highly rated squad. To produce this at the end of a week which resulted in 18 1st & 2nd team players being injured, ill or unavailable on Saturday was the ultimate praise for the coaches and the 20 players who gave their all for the club.

Fylde Director of Rugby Mark Nelson said: "This was a fantastic bounce back from the Leicester game. Our tactical plan worked well and players across the pitch performed very well to the plan. Nick King had a very physical game and was, I believe, targeted by the opposition. I didn't agree with his yellow card penalty. Steve McGinnis had a superb debut game at flanker. But generally, this was an all round team performance of which I'm very proud."

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