Fylde 44, Cinderford 12

Cinderford's Robert Winchle fails to prevent Fylde's Christopher Biers from scoring a try
Cinderford's Robert Winchle fails to prevent Fylde's Christopher Biers from scoring a try

WHATEVER the shape of the ball, round or oval, it is crucial to capitalise on opponents’ mistakes, and this is what Fylde did in some style to claim this convincing victory.

It lifted them two places up the table, but will do a lot more in terms of their confidence after an early-season wobble.

Cinderford rarely looked like a side third in National League One, largely because Fylde took advantage of poor handling by the visitors and, more often than not, exacted a full price for their mishaps.

At times, Cinderford tried to take on Fylde at their own expansive game, but it seldom came off – the home side scored six tries to two.

Fylde turned on the style in the first half to register 26 unanswered points, and although they could never quite replicate that after the break, they were worthy victors.

Evidence of a rewarding afternoon is the fact there were several candidates for man of the match.

Chris Briers scored two tries and was equally adept in defence, not least with a try-saver in the opening minutes, which set the tone for the contest in terms of Fylde’s resolve and dogged attitude.

The decision to play Scott Barrow at fly-half was a notable success as he always had an eye for an opening and was an ever-present threat.

Ryan De La Harpe was sharp and snappy at scrum-half, always able to get his line moving and over-shadowing his opposite number.

Paul Arnold was invariably hot to handle at lock, while Ben Vernon added to his mounting reputation with an eye-catching display at flanker.

Cinderford went close to opening the scoring following a counter-attack that saw centre Robert Winchle halted on the verge of dashing over, Chris Briers doing superbly well to haul his man down.

Fylde responded with a long-range surge by Arnold, who galloped clear, but couldn’t quite make his inside pass to Oli Brennand.

The home side maintained the momentum and opened the scoring on 11 minutes, following a scrum close to the Cinderford line.

De La Harpe and Barrow both had a go, before Chris Briers found a narrow gap from an opening on the left. De La Harpe added the conversion.

Within three minutes, Fylde added to their lead. Warren Spragg made the break and finished the incisive move himself after neat interplay with Brennand, though De La Harpe was wayward with his conversion.

On 26 minutes, Fylde crossed for their third try following a knock-on near the home line by Jack Adams, who spilled the ball with a clear scoring chance.

Fylde duly shifted the ball with alacrity and swarmed forward in numbers. A slick handling move was rounded off by a perfect pass from the industrious Vernon and Chris Briers was on hand to claim his second try. De La Harpe converted from in front of the posts to give Fylde a 19-0 advantage.

Fylde, by now really hitting their stride, claimed a bonus-point try with more of the excellent build-up play which was their trademark in this match.

A lot of hard work had been done, not least by Roger Banks, before Barrow made the most of a gap. The ball was manoeuvred to Stephen Briers, who found Brennand on the overlap and the winger wriggled through a narrow space wide left. De La Harpe landed a belter of a conversion to make it 26-0.

Cinderford got a pathway back into the contest, after Dan Birchall was penalised for not releasing.

The visitors attacked in numbers, with flanker William Foden at the forefront, but outstanding defence meant the Fylde line was not breached.

Fylde came agonisingly close to a fifth try with another magnificent run down the left by Arnold. From his overhead offload, Stephen Briers crossed the line, but referee Wayne Falla ruled the pass forward. Fylde seemed to have a case in arguing the ball had touched a Cinderford player first.

Nonetheless, Fylde were content to be leading 26-0 at half-time.

But they wouldn’t be happy about the start they made to the second half as De La Harpe’s loss of possession in midfield proved costly. Fylde were caught by surprise and Cinderford winger Nevarro Codlin had the freedom of Ansdell to hare in for a simple try, goaled by Mark Davies. De La Harpe tried to atone for his error, but was hauled down after a penetrative sortie.

Cinderford were penalised beneath the sticks as Fylde’s attack continued, and De La Harpe duly did the honours with the successful kick after 47 minutes.

Adams was yellow-carded, reducing Cinderford to 14 men, then Fylde won another which led to their fifth try.

After Ewan Stewart rose to collect the ball at the lineout, Brennand peeled away on the blindside and went close. Skipper Stewart picked up swiftly and steamed over the line, though the conversion was missed.

Cinderford were still a more than an occasional threat, and Fylde breathed again as full-back Michael Wilcox stepped into touch as the tryline loomed.

Wilcox spilled the ball as Cinderford attacked again, then Spragg kicked ahead and was involved in a 70-metre foot race, which saw Cinderford wing Lloyd Stapleton sprint back to deny him a try.

Cinderford came on strongly in the closing stages, scrum-half Sam Arnott burrowing through for an unconverted touchdown.

De La Harpe hoisted a penalty over to make it 37-12, then linked up with Stewart only for the alert Winchle to make the tackle. But Fylde did get a final try, courtesy of a sloppy pass by Wilcox, which was gleefully intercepted by Spragg, who will rarely score a simpler try, neatly gift-wrapped.

De La Harpe added the extras to wrap up the scoring.

Fylde: Viney; Spragg, C Briers, S Briers, Brennand; Barrow (Kenyon, 77 minutes) De La Harpe (Wallwork, 77); Birchall, Roddam (Burntonwood,63) Lavelle (Altham,63) Arnold (Jackson, 77) Banks, 
Maher, Vernon, 
Stewart.