Match report: Plymouth Albion 68 Fylde 15

Greg Smith set up Fylde's first try
Greg Smith set up Fylde's first try

Fylde were ultimately crushed by a barrage of tries in the final quarter in Devon, showing what an unforgiving sport this after they had been competitive for more than half of the game.

Indeed, the visitors were the better side in the first half at the Brickfields Ground but an interception try after 39 minutes pulled Albion clear.

Fylde had the benefit of the breeze at the kick-off but again went behind early as Albion full-back Matt Shepherd scored in the corner in the third minute.

Missing an array of players to injury and unavailability, and with none of their dual-registered players with Sale making the trip, the visitors were undaunted and replied with vigour and skill. They pressed the Plymouth defence but fly-half Greg Smith narrowly missed two penalties.

The second one was the result of an offence by Albion flanker George Mills, who was yellow-carded.

With a man advantage, Smith redeemed himself in the 13th minute when he broke the Albion defensive line, linked with lock Nick Ashcroft and he in turn found hooker Ben Gregory, who scored an excellent try near the corner flag. With the conversion drifting wide, the sides were level at 5-5.

Fylde competed well in the loose and forced Albion into mistakes, and in the 29th minute Smith converted a penalty for an 8-5 lead.

This was shortlived as Albion came back strongly. Flanker Eoghan Grace drove powerfully for the line and lock Ed Holmes forced his way over. Former Sale Sharks fly-half Dan Mugford added the extras for a 12-8 lead.

Fylde continued to attack up to the interval but were punished by that interception try. Centre Harvey Skinner read the pass near his own line and ran the length of the pitch to go under the posts.

Mugford converted and Albion had a 19-8 half-time lead which flattered them.

The second period started badly for the Lancastrians as they offended in midfield. With the benefit of the breeze, Mugford kicked for the corner and a driving maul ended with powerful number eight Herbie Stupple claiming the bonus-point try.

Fylde came back once more as they pressed Albion back. Smith kicked a penalty to the corner but the Fylde pack’s maul was dragged down by the hosts.

Referee Christopher Ridley awarded a penalty try and prop Marcus Street was sinbinned for his trouble as his side’s lead was cut to 26-15.

Albion won the ball from the restart, though, and kept the momentum from that point as winger Matt Crosscombe scored in the corner.

Fylde were finding it harder to gain possession and territory, making mistakes and conceding penalties.

The floodgates opened as Albion poured forward. Replacement flanker Jack Owlett and hooker Rupert Freestone scored clos- quarter tries. Mugford converted both for a 47-15 advantage.

As Fylde forced the play they opened themselves to more errors. A second interception try by Skinner was followed by further tries from Dan Mugford and winger Jack Arnott. Mugford finished the game with a personal haul of 23 points.

This was Plymouth’s third win out of four games and left Fylde as the only National One side still without a point.

Fylde Carleton, Hadfield, Briers, Wilkinson, Grimes; Smith, Dolly; Lewis (c), Gregory, Irving, Garrod, Ashcroft, Brookes, McCarthy, Vernon; replacements (all used): Carleton, Foster, Hadfield, Burtonwood, Richardson, Capstick.