Richmond 22 Fylde 21: Full report and reaction

Greg Nicholls

Greg Nicholls

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Fylde gave a strong and brave performance at the home of the National One leaders only to lose by a single point for the second Saturday running.

The London club had edged a 29-27 win at the Woodlands in September, and Fylde again fell agonisingly short on a day of high drama from start to finish.

The drama began that morning at Preston rail station, where club physios Greg Littler and Megan Stewart, together with scrum-half and qualified doctor Greg Nicholls, saved the life of a woman with a heart condition.

The incident delayed their southbound train but the game began on time and Fylde got off to a flying start.

In only the third minute, skipper Chris Briers launched a deep grubber kick from his own 22m line and won the chase for the ball, which he gathered one-handed for a superb individual try. Chris Johnson’s conversion made it 7-0.

The home side’s problems grew on eight minutes, when Charlie Broughton was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on to halt a a Fylde attack.

But Richmond then built pressure and in the 14th minute flanker Matteo Zambrunio battered his way over the line for a try, Rob Kirby’s conversion levelling the scores.

The home side edged ahead after 21 minutes with a Kirby penalty.

Richmond may have survived their spell with 14 players but Fylde crucially could not do likewise.

On 28 minutes, lock Gareth Rawlings was sinbinned for entering a ruck from the side.

The hosts opted for a scrum from the penalty and flanker Tom Sargeant nipped in to score by the posts, Kirby adding the goal.

And they scored again before Rawlings returned, the continued pressure resulting in number eight Chris Davies diving over. Kirby missed the conversion but the home side had a clear 22-7 lead.

That’s how it remained until the interval, Fylde spurning a golden opportunity for a try just before half-time.

Fylde came out strongly for the second half but couldn’t reduce the deficit until the 58th minute, when centre Scott Rawlings charged over.

Johnson added the extras but couldn’t convert the penalty from halfway awarded for a late tackle on Rawlings after he had scored.

Eight points down going into the final quarter, Fylde gave Nicholls a well-earned rest after his day’s heroics, bringing on the speedy Anthony Bingham and switching Jordan Dorrington from full-back to scrum-half.

But despite their best attacking efforts, they couldn’t cross the whitewash until the final minute, when Bingham showed his opportunism by outstripping the defence from inside his own half for a try between the posts, Johnsones goal cutting the gap to a single point.

There was controversy as scorer Bingham was tackled late, just as Rawlings had been in scoring the previous try.

The offender, flanker Jack Allcock, was yellow-carded but this time Fylde were not awarded a penalty from halfway because the final whistle had already sounded, denying them a last-gasp chance to grab a first ever league win on this ground.

Head coach Paul Arnold hailed his side’s “never say die effort” at Richmond, where Fylde again tested one of National One’s top clubs to the limit without quite managing to grab the victory.

The Fylde coach said: “We were somewhat unlucky as we spurned a few good chances to score.

“We have now played the top three clubs in the last few weeks, two of them on their own turf.

“We drew at Blackheath and have lost by a single point against Hartpury College and now Richmond. With a little bit more luck and accuracy we would be much higher in the league table.

“We are still suffering from occasional indiscipline and this is costing us.

“Our defence was very good and the general shape of our play improved. We butchered a golden opportunity just before half-time and, who knows, that may have changed the direction of the game.

“Richmond have an excellent, well-organised all-round side and we always enjoy playing them.”

However, the result means Fylde remain 10th and still seeking their first win of 2016, which they will be all the more anxious to achieve in their only home game of the month against Plymouth Albion on Saturday.

Fylde: Dorrington; Brennand, S Rawlings, Briers, Spragg; Johnson, Nicholls; Birchall, Burtonwood, Lewis, Griffiths, G Rawlings, Moon, Goodman, Fairbrother. Replacements: Lavelle, Arnold, Dowds, Vernon, Bingham.