Fylde 35, Wharfedale 3
Fylde returned to winning ways by grinding out a deserved victory at the Woodlands, patiently eroding spirited resistance from Wharfedale to notch a win and a bonus point with three second-half tries.
In a heated and full-blooded Roses battle, Fylde played part of the first half with 13 men after both Warren Spragg and Dave Fairbrother were sent to the sin-bin. And both sides ended the match with 14 after a late mass brawl was punished with a red card apiece.
Despite being outnumbered for part of the first half, the Lancastrians ended it 14-3 ahead and then showed more composure to win convincingly in the end, helped by some tactical tweaks.
However, the game did spiral out of control in the closing stages, with just about all the players involved in a scuffle which resulted in referee Jamie Leahey showing red cards to Fylde’s Gareth Rawlings and Wharfedale’s Matt Beesley.
Despite the fiery nature of the game, Fylde head coach Mark Nelson was satisfied with the result:
He said: “I am very pleased with the second-half performance after we regrouped at half-time.
“Obviously we could have lived without the two yellow cards, and the red card didn’t make life any easier, but overall it was an effective and efficient performance.”
“Wharfedale are a very dogged, very committed side and they were never going to make it easy for us
“But we broke them down in the end and scored those tries near the end to send the fans home happy.
Fylde had started the brighter, taking the lead after 10 minutes when David Fairbrother crossed the whitewash, with the reliable Chris Johnson kicking the conversion.
But Wharfedale replied three minutes later when Tom Davidson kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit to four points.
The hosts then had two yellow cards within five minutes, when first Warren Spragg was cautioned before Fairbrother joined him in the sin-bin.
But on regaining their full contingent, Fylde boosted their lead before the break as Johnson crossed following a well-worked, quickly-taken penalty.
The fly-half added the extras to his own try to leave Fylde 14-3 ahead at half-time.
Paul Arnold scored two very similar tries in the second half to clinch the bonus point and take the game away from the Yorkshiremen.
First he crossed in the left corner following a rolling maul after 53 minutes.
A similar routine saw the forward touching down again in the opposite corner with 10 minutes to go.
Both the second rower’s tries were converted, the first by centre Sam Bedlow and the second by Johnson to secure the full five points for Fylde.
With the game won, the brawl followed but the match ended on a brighter note as Fylde wing Oli Brennand picked the ball up on half way and dipped his shoulder to show his extreme pace and leave the Wharfedale defence for dead.
Brennand’s 11th try of the season left Johnson the simplest of conversions from between the posts to end this intense derby with an ultimately convincing Fylde victory.
But the hosts had prevailed in convincing fashion in the end, 35-3.
Nelson believes the win will stand his team in good stead ahead of their tough trip to unbeaten league leaders Ealing Trailfinders on Saturday.
He told the Gazette: “It was very important we go down to Ealing full of confidence, and we will on the back of this second-half performance and the result
“But we go down there with no pressure and must just try to enjoy the game because we know it will be a tough ask to beat them.”
Fylde team: Spragg, Dorrington, Bedlow, S.Rawlings, Brennand, Johnson (Kenyon 50), Nicholls (Wallwork 79), Birchall (Griffiths 37), Maher, Lewis (Burtonwood 62), Arnold, G.Rawlings, Fairbrother, Stewart (Robinson 68), Beaumont