Killer blow at the death again

Oliver Brennand scored two tries
Oliver Brennand scored two tries

A narrow defeat in which indiscipline cost Fylde dear – as such this game in Gloucestershire summed up their season.

They displayed some excellent running rugby against hosts who went into the game bottom of National One and outscored Cinderford by three tries to two.

However, two late sinbinnings and penalties conceded ultimately made the difference as Fylde lost for the 14th time this season – nine of them by seven points or fewer.

Another losing bonus point was little consolation at Dockham Road, never a happy hunting ground since Fylde’s first visit five years ago.

Cinderford are fighting for their National One lives and they threw themselves into the contest.

Fylde’s inability to defend a lead in the final 20 minutes of games has become a major problem but pre-match events also went against them on Saturday.

Flanker Ben Vernon was injured in the warm-up and his place was taken by Evan Stewart, with analyst David Wiseman giving his kit a rare outing to make up the replacement numbers.

Once again, Fylde started brightly. From a scrummage on the halfway line in the 18th minute, no.8 David Fairbrother surged through midfield and linked swiftly with his backs.

Once the ball reached Oli Brennand there was no stopping the left winger, who sprinted in from the 22m line for the opening try. Fly-half Tom Morton converted well and the visitors were 7-0 up.

Cinderford came back strongly, and when a Fylde player offended on the half-hour mark, fly-half Chris Eden kicked the subsequent penalty.

Two minutes later, they were in front when a pinpoint crossfield kick from playmaker Callum Sheedy found winger Josh Adams, who glided over for a good try. Eden added the conversion for a 10-7 lead.

Although Fylde were seeing plenty of the ball and their attacking intentions were obvious, they struggled to break down a stern home defence.

On the stroke of half-time, Foresters centre Sam Hanks intercepted on his own 22 before racing downfield and offloading to Sheedy, who dummied twice before crossing the line.

Eden’s conversion attempt from wide out hit a post but his side went into the break with a healthy 15-7 lead.

Immediately after the interval Fylde were back in the contest with a trademark Brennand try, his 16th of another highly productive season in this his 251st game for the club. Once again Morton converted and the visitors were just a point behind.

In the 48th minute, Fylde were penalised at a ruck and Chris Eden kicked the penalty to extend the Cinderford lead to 18-14.

Back came Fylde once again in the 56th minute of this see-saw encounter. From a scrummage in the Foresters’ half, their backs broke with slick inter-passing and skipper Chris Briers stepped past England Counties full-back Wilcox to score an excellent try. Morton added the extras and the visitors had regained the lead 21-18.

The final chapter, however, was predictable, starting when Fylde gave away another penalty on the hour and Eden levelled the scores.

The last quarter of the game was fiercely contested and Fylde’s Scott Rawlings was shown a yellow card for not rolling away at a ruck in the 74th minute.

Cinderford let Fylde off the hook by kicking for touch instead of going for goal and the visitors defended the lineout well. But the final twist was letto come as a rumbling Foresters driving maul inched towards the try- line in the last minute before collapsing.

Evan Stewart was carded and Fylde were down to 13 players, though this was of little consequence as there was time only for the penalty kick.

Eden’s nerve held in total silence and his aim was spot on. The home players and supporters erupted as the final whistle blew. It may be too little, too late to save them from relegation but at least they have given themselves a glimmer of a chance with this hard-working and passionate display.

Fylde probably need another six points to ensure they aren’t caught up in the relegation dogfight and next face another relegation-haunted club, Henley Hawks, at the Woodlands. That game is not until Saturday week as the coming weekend is blank.

Fylde: Briers; Brennand, S Rawlings, Dowds, Jeffers; Morton, Nicholls; Birchall, Burtonwood, Lewis, Arnold, Gray, Goodman, Stewart, Fairbrother. Replacements: Griffiths, Mills, Beaumont, Wiseman, Johnson.