Smith is Fylde’s last-gasp hero

Try-scorer Dowds finishes in style
Try-scorer Dowds finishes in style

Fylde 13, Ampthill & District 11

The mantle of last-minute hero must rest easily on the shoulders of Fylde fly-half Greg Smith - because it is becoming a bit of a habit!

Last month he scored a try to ensure a last-gasp win over Plymouth Albion - on Saturday it was his trusty boot that came into play as his last kick of the match, a penalty from near-enough 35 yards out, secured victory.

It was relatively straight, but no gimmie by any means given that the result was riding on it.

Smith kept his composure to settle the argument, though anything other than a win for Fylde would have been rough justice on the home side.

The fact that Smith retained his cool in such a pressure situation was all the more commendable due to the fact that he had missed a penalty attempt, admittedly much more difficult, a couple of minutes earlier at a time when the visitors were leading 11-10 thanks to a 78th minute penalty of their own.

No-one was more grateful to Smith than player-coach Paul Arnold, who said: “I had a bit of a laugh afterwards with Greg that he needed that first miss as a sighter!

“He showed great nerve again.

“Greg has fitted in with us no problem - he is growing with confidence every week and getting better every week. He is also great to have around.

“He is a pretty laid-back character and that is two games he has won for us with the last play.”

Smith’s winner was the culmination of a cracker of a match.

It mattered not a jot that the scores were locked at 0-0 at half-time as that in no way detracted from the standard of entertainment - this was a proper rugby match, one to lap up with relish.

Though Fylde were the more adventurous with ball in hand in that first half, Ampthill had more of the territory and gave the home defence a real examination.

Fylde did not flinch one bit, which made you wonder why they have shipped 57 and 53 points in two matches on their travels this season.

There were some excellent performances.

No firework on Bonfire Night dazzled more than Jordan Dorrington - he scored one try and was so elusive that he was a handful to Ampthill throughout.

Dave Fairbrother had a blockbuster of a game at wing forward, while Arnold quite rightly made special mention of prop forward Jonny Wild.

The Fylde player-coach has invested great faith in a player who has only been on the periphery at the Woodlands for several years and has been given his chance in the absence of Simon Griffiths and Adam Lewis - that faith was amply rewarded to such an extent that he was Arnold’s man of the match.

Dorrington was making his presence felt from early on

He made a tremendous ey break from behind his line and deep into the opposition half,defying all attempts to stop him, to put Fylde into a promising attacking position.

From the next phase of play, Fylde looked in a try-scoring position, but Greg Nicholls’ probing pass was intercepted, allowing Ampthill to counter-attack,

Ampthill threatened with a strong forward surge, but Fylde defended valiantly to repel this serious threat, which was to set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.

Fylde’s response was a passage of slick, eye-catching passes, which cut a swathe through the visitors’ defence, but it ended when Connor Wilkinson just failed to hold on the final pass.

It was an entertaining opening to the contest played on a cold, autumn afternoon, featuring two committed sides, neither wishing to cede an inch.

Despite no score in the first quarter, there could be no complaint about the standard of play.

One problem for Fylde was spilling ball in hand and one occasion on 27 minutes, Fylde nearly paid the price.

Such an error allowed Ampthill to get into several attacking positions, but it ended in anti-climax for them when they knocked on only a few metres out, much to Fylde’s evident relief.

The next passage of play saw Ampthill swarm forward in numbers again, but Fylde’s defence was yet again top notch and defiantly unyielding.

The deadlock was broken four minutes into the second half after the visitors had made the most of their line-out ball close to the Fylde line. The visiting pack mauled sideways before they forced the opposition into retreat winger Sam Baker being the surprise try-scorer beneath a pile of beefy forwards.

The conversion by Joseph Tarrant was missed.

Fylde responded in resilient style.

After a clean catch at the front of the line by Fairbrother, this was the platform for a flowing move, sweeping across the park and ended with Scott Armstrong just failing by inches to squeeze over.

Then Fylde were denied at the opposite flank by what looked like a deliberate knock-on, but the miscreant was not yellow-carded by referee Hamish Smales.

However, Ampthill flanker Joseph Bercis was sin-binned minutes later as Fylde continued with their forward momentum.

Fylde were penalised at a scrum on 58 minutes and fly-half Joseph Tarrant slotted over the kick to put Ampthill two scores in front at 8-0.

The home side hit back and got a deserved try on 64 minutes - Fairbrother found Armstrong with some neat handling on the turn. Armstrong dispatched a pass to Dorrington, who still had work to do, but he managed to work his way over for a try.

Greg Smith missed with a conversion from wide out (5-8)

Five minutes later, Fylde took the lead thanks to a fabulous try.

It was instigated by a break out of nothing by Fairbrother, whose speed off the mark and strength put Ampthill completely on the back foot - Fylde maintained the momentum, the ball being switched left and then right before Ralph Dowds finished off with aplomb in the righ-hand corner.

Smith missed with the kick, but Fylde had their tails up at this point and continued in attacking mode.

Replacement Andy Hughes came tantalisingly close after yet another all-out assault on the Ampthill defence.

The visitors responded and forced Fylde into giving away a penalty in the 78th minute and Tarrant made no mistake to inch his aside ahead (10-11)

Right at the end of normal time, Fylde themselves were awarded a penalty after Ampthill were penalised at a scrum, but the flags of the touch-judges stayed down.

Then a couple of minutes later, Ampthill were pinged again - the kick was futrher infield than the last, but Smith’s effort went over this time to spark justifiable celebrations by his ecstatic team-,mates and leaving the visitors smouldering like the dying embers of a bonfire after what for them was a huge dampener.

Fylde: Briers; Dorrington, Dowds, Wilkinson, Armstrong; Smith, Nicholls; Pope, Burtonwood, Wild, Gray, Turley, Fairbrother, Stewart, Lamprey. Replacements: Simpson, Loney, Hughes, Vernon, Bailey