Sedgley Park 13, Fylde 29
FYLDE’S first ever league win at the home of their derby rivals, lifted Fylde to second in National One after starting the year with back-to-back wins.
The high error count was perhaps understandable on a tense occasion in front of a big, enthusiastic crowd on a beautiful day at Park Lane, where Fylde completed a double over the Tigers.
The players and coaches know each other so well from the Lancashire County set-up and there wasn’t a great deal between the teams, though Fylde’s sharpness in attack was vital.
The visitors took advantage of two mistakes by the home side to score crucial second-half tries which proved decisive.
Sedgley Park, who welcomed back full-back Richard Wainwright after injury, were faster out of the blocks and went in front from Will Runciman’s penalty kick.
More home pressure resulted in Juan Crous crashing over for a short-range try in the left corner to make it 8-0.
Fylde’s shaky start continued as they failed to find touch with a penalty but they eventually began to exert pressure and fly-half Richard Kenyon got them on the scoreboard with an 18th-minute penalty.
They took the lead after 26 minutes, when a fine surge by prop Simon Griffiths gave the half-backs an opportunity to move the ball wide and centre Mike Waywell crashed over from ten metres, with Kenyon converting.
Fylde looked sure to stretch their lead in the final 10 minutes of the half when the sin-binning of Louis McGowan for offside and Danny Birchall for killing the ball saw Sedgley reduced to 13 men.
However, poor handling and decision-making by Fylde, allied to some solid defending,
meant half-time arrived with no change to the 10-8 scoreline, leaving the visitors to wonder whether their profligacy would haunt them.
Sedgley were restored to full strength shortly after the break but Fylde stepped up their game. Lock Paul Arnold, back at the club where his senior career started and where he is still based as a RFU community coach, made an incisive burst down the right from halfway and passed over his head for full-back Chris Briers to burst clear to score. Kenyon had no problems making the conversion.
Sedgley came back immediately as McGowan broke following an interception and former Fylde winger Mike Dutton finished down the blindside. Runciman’s kick drifted wide but the Tigers had reduced the deficit to 17-13.
Just three minutes later, it was Fylde’s turn to attack down the blind side and their incisive handling paid off.
Josh Beaumont’s clever offload found his backrow partner Evan Stewart out wide. The ever-alert Irishman brushed off a couple of ineffective tackles and burst clear from halfway for his 14th try of a highly productive season, though Kenyon’s conversion went awry.
Fylde’s cause wasn’t helped when referee Tom Davies sent prop Tom Lavelle to the sinbin for interference at the breakdown after 59 minutes, and as the game went on they lost Waywell, Rawlings, Griffiths and Arnold to injury.
A key moment arrived on 65 minutes when Tigers centre Matt Riley, who had tested the Fylde defence constantly with his bullocking runs, tried to make their extra man count with a looping pass for his left winger.
However, Fylde full-back Nick Royle made a typical interception 30 metres from his own line and the England 7s back, trotted clear for a try without a finger being laid on him.
After Kenyon’s conversion made it 29-13, Fylde ran down the clock for the last 15 minutes, and were delighted to have pick up maximum points.
This leaves Mark Nelson’s side just a point behind new leaders Jersey, who edged the top-of-the-table clash with Rosslyn Park.
Fylde: C Briers, Royle, S Briers, Waywell, Brennand, Kenyon, McShane, Griffiths, Rodam, Lavelle, Arnold, Rawlings, J Beaumont, Stewart, S Beaumont; replacements: Viney), Depledge, Livesey, Loney, Ferguson.