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Home > News > Apprentice fullback steals the show against Ionians
Your News Apprentice fullback steals the show against Ionians

Fyldes free scoring winger Nick Royle played only his second ever league match at fullback against Hull Ionians on a still and balmy day at the Woodlands. He did his learning last week at Caldy when his defence was thoroughly tested. This game was a rather different experience for him. In the first minute he picked up a loose Ionians kick ahead on his 22m line, ran back and around the first charging defender. He then scythed around and through just about the whole visiting side in a remarkable 75m burst to score his first try of an injury-hit season.

If the Ionians were very careful not to kick easy possession to him from thereafter, it did not stop him giving a glorious display of penetrative running and support play for the remaining 79 minutes. Tom Barlow, unusually, lost his compass bearing with the attempted conversion but then proceeded to kick every other goal opportunity during another productive afternoon and a 15 point haul.

Although Barlow extended his sides lead to 8-0 with a 18th minute penalty, a game and gritty Ionians side hadnt come just to make up the numbers at a Fylde party. They dominated possession for significant periods in the game, recycling the ball with strength and technique, no 8 Danny Hague to the fore. Unfortunately, much of the ball they produced was slow and their backline got no change out of a fine Fylde defence. Their limited game plan did reduce what would otherwise have been a much heavier defeat but they rarely looked to have serious penetration in their backs.

The Ionians' scrummaging caused some difficulties for the new Fylde front row of Andrew Irving, Peter Altham & Adam Lewis. Altham was at hooker for the first time in a competitive match and didn't the team down. The line-outs were also shaded by the visitors with the abrasive lock Jimmy Rule featuring until he gave way to replacement Richard Hill on 57 minutes.

The Barlow-Royle show extended the home sides lead on 39 minutes when a lovely floated pass from the fly-half gave Royle the metre of space he needed and he cruised between the Ionians centres from 25m out for his second try. Barlow converted for a 15-3 lead. Ionians very competent goal kicker Iain Gordon kicked a second penalty to reduce the deficit once more as the referees whistle blew for the interval at 15-6 to the home side. A third Gordon penalty raised Ionians hopes early in the 2nd half.

But the rest of the game belonged to Fylde. Another coruscating 40m Royle break on 56 minutes almost took him to the try line but as he was tackled he offloaded to the ever present flanker Laurie Smith who scored the try. Barlow converted from the touchline and had taken the game completely away from the visitors at 25-9.

Barlow was running the game effectively, one minute with a huge pressure relieving clearance kick down field, the next a subtle little midfield chip for centre Alex Hurst to catch and break deep into Ionians' territory. As Fylde pressed for the bonus point fourth try, they believed that they had scored when the effervescent Smith drove over the line following an Olli Brennand break. Assistant referee Andrew Gardner signalled the try but this was over ruled by referee Matt Daubney.

Young Fylde winger Matt Gargett was also enjoying himself in only his fifth senior game. A fraction of a trailing foot on the touchline prevented him from scoring a lovely try in the 1st half. On 71 minutes he raced down the right once more and managed an inside pass to Royle who dived over the line gleefully for his hat-trick score. Barlow once more converted from the touchline to conclude the 35-9 scoring.

Only a number of forward passes and other errors by Fylde prevented a much higher try count. But Hull Ionians never gave up and hammered away at the Fylde line until the very end without looking like breaking through.

This was another sound overall performance by Fylde. Their backline, with yet another new centre partnership, Jack Ward & Alex Hurst, looked far more coherent and dangerous than in recent weeks.The pack worked hard throughout with, once again, Laurie Smith and Roger Banks to the fore, and Johnny Roddam doing a useful job as a makeshift openside flanker. Smith has been a revelation since his arrival as an unsung backrower with limited senior experience.

Injury and unavailability continues to put enormous strain on the 1st/2nd team squad. Missing from selection contention for this game was skipper Sam Beaumont, forwards player coach Dave Wilks, hooker Alan Holmes, openside flankers Mark Stephenson & Steve McGinnis, lock Nick King & centre Ollie Moore as well as a long list of others.

As for Nick Royle, he has now scored 97 tries in 91 games for the Club, getting to within one of Mark Preston's record, pretty astonishing in itself, of 98 tries in 131 games. He particularly likes Ionians as this was his fourth hat-trick of tries against them in eight matches since he joined the club back in 2005.

Referee: Matt Daubney


FYLDE: Royle; Gargett, Hurst, Ward (Waywell 71), Brennand, Barlow, Aikman (Wallwork 75), Irving, Altham (Stover 72), Lewis (Filipo 67), Atkinson, Ferguson, Smith(L), Roddam (Briggs 72), Banks.

Timings of tries & pens.

Tries: Royle 1, 39, 71, Smith 56. Conversions: Barlow 3. Penalties: Barlow 18, 49.

HULL IONIANS: Gordon; Smith, Greene (Thundercliffe 49), Whittam, Stephenson; Wright, Bartlett; Starling (Wilson 57), Mortimer (Forth 67), Longbone, Makin, Rule (Hill 57), Kench, Cusack, Hague (Rice 60). Replacements:

Timings of penalties.

Penalties: Gordon 32, 40(+3), 42.

STAR MAN: Nick Royle (Fylde)


Fylde Ionians

11 Penalties conceded 8

10 Lineouts won 13

3 Lineouts lost 1

10 Scrums won 11

1 Scrums lost 0

0 Sin bins 0

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