Hull Ionians 26 Fylde 36: Full report and reaction

Sam Beaumont was back after almost a year out
Sam Beaumont was back after almost a year out
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In contrast to recent seasons, Fylde are proving strong on their travels and fragile at their Woodlands base.

Saturday’s gritty and deserved win continued this trend, making amends for the collapse at home to Plymouth Albion seven days earlier.

In the past two months, Fylde have won at Henley and Wharfedale, while drawing at Blackheath and losing by single point at National One leaders Richmond.

Victory on Humberside was aided by the first-half red card of home hooker Ali Thomson and Fylde were never behind after the opening quarter, though the hosts threatened a second-half fightback as Fylde had three players sin-binned.

The home side started in the very best fashion with a try in the third minute as evergreen England Counties prop Steve Johnson forced his way over from a drive by the powerful Ionians pack. Scrum-half Isaac Green converted well from wide out.

Fylde gradually came into the game and equalised on 19 minutes, when a driving maul ended with lock Gareth Rawlings forcing his way over the line. Chris Johnson added the conversion and it was all square.

A critical incident occurred in the 26th minute, when Thomson was shown a straight red for punching.

A few minutes later Fylde upped the pressure on the Ionians line and home flanker Joe Sanders was adjudged to have prevented release of the ball. A penalty try was awarded and Sanders was sin-binned, reducing his side to 13 for a spell.

Fylde took due advantage in the 36th minute, when a neat pass sent centre Scott Rawlings bursting between the posts for his third try in two games. Johnson converted for a 21-7 lead.

The fly-half added a penalty just before the break to make it 24-7.

Fylde had squandered a similar lead against Plymouth, so nothing was taken for granted.

Indeed, Ionians mounted a strong fightback in the second half and Fylde number eight David Fairbrother was yellow-carded on 51 minutes for entering the ruck from th side as the hosts pressed.

Even so, it was Fylde who scored next three minutes later, replacement centre Ralph Dowds leaving the defence in his wake as he sprinted clear to touch down near the posts, Johnson adding the extras.

Fylde flanker Evan Stewart was sinbinned on the hour for a technical offence, meaning that Hull briefly had the extra man, 14 to 13.

The penalty was kicked for the corner, and from the ensuing lineout Fylde replacement lock Nick Gray was adjudged to have brought down the maul.

A penalty try was awarded and Gray was sent to the sin-bin. Fortunately for Fylde this coincided with Fairbrother’s return, but Hull still had one extra man and renewed hope at 31-14.

On 69 minutes, Ionians pressed again and flanker Lawrence Cowen scored a try wide out. James Ferguson couldn’t add the conversion but the hosts sniffed a dramatic comeback with 12 points to make up.

However, Fylde’s sound game management, especially from Chris Johnson, enabled them to control the final 15 minutes after regaining their full complement.

They added a final try on 77 minutes, Fairbrother getting the final touch in a driving maul following a line-out.

Johnson’s attempted conversion drifted wide but it didn’t matter, despite a last-minute touch down by Hull full-back Keane Naylor sealing a deserved bonus point. James Ferguson converted.

The win lifts Fylde above Coventry into ninth. The next team they must try to overtake are Rosslyn Park, their hosts this Saturday.

Fylde head coach Paul Arnold said: “I was very pleased with another good away performance. We did a video analysis on the last 20 minutes of the Plymouth game and identified 18 mistakes or bad decisions in that period.

“We have to cut these out, and away from home we don’t feel the need to force the play and take unnecessary risks.

“At the Woodlands the lads appear to believe that they have to entertain the crowd and often try to run the ball from anywhere.

“We have to be smarter, tighter and even kick for territory when necessary.

“And we have to close games out after building a healthy lead, which we did at Hull. We were helped by the early red card but Ionians came back bravely and put us under serious pressure.

“I was delighted by the performance of all the players but I have to single out the back row.

“Sam Beaumont has played just one second-team game after a year out with injury and made a major contribution with hard work and tackling. He looked like he hadn’t been away.

“Evan Stewart effected a number of turnovers and Dave Fairbrother carried the ball in his usual ebullient way.

“With Joe Robinson, Mark Goodman and Dominic Moon all having excellent games for the Hawks (Second XV), we have very serious competition for places in the back row.”

Fylde: Dorrington; Brennand, S Rawlings, Briers, Bingham; Johnson, Nicholls; Birchall, Loney, Lewis, Arnold, S Rawlings, Beaumont, Stewart, Fairbrother. Replacements: Griffitths, Burtonwood, Vernon, Gray, Dowds.