Fylde RFC 54 Stourbridge 10: Eight-try treat as promotion race hots up
Fylde produced one of their best performances of the season to complete a double over the Midlands side with this eight-try Woodlands demolition.
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With skipper Adam Lewis out with concussion and young gun Matt Garrod struck down by flu, head coach Warren Spragg had to reshuffle his pack but had warhorse Olli Parkinson back after injury as Ben Vernon took over the captaincy.
Fylde had a strong wind at their backs in the first half but Stourbridge, resplendent in their pink shirts, dominated the opening moments.
But after four minutes Tom Grimes stripped the ball and top scorer Tom Carleton broke for yet another try, Greg Smith converting.
Fylde looked set to extend their lead only to knock on in grounding as a catch and drive was driven over.
On 16 minutes they fashioned a fine second score as Bevan Rodd charged through the middle and offloaded for Ben O’Ryan to score, Smith’s second goal making it 14-0.
Stour were under the cosh but left winger Dan Rundle showed his threat with a 50-yard break.
This resulted in a scrum, from which centre Hal Riley ran straight, hard and rather too easily through two Fylde defenders to get Stour on the board.
Fylde got back down to business as a strong surge by Cal Ford put Stour on the back foot, then Ralph Dowds crashed into the last defender and offloaded superbly for supporting scrum-half Cam Crampton to score between the posts.
Smith goaled and then a frantic spell of turnovers led to four minutes of overtime before the half ended with Fylde 21-5 up.
This was by no means an unassailable lead playing into the wind and Fylde were forced to replace the injured Crampton with Gus Warr.
Stour did not help their cause by conceding four penalties in as many minutes at the start of the second half. From the last of these Warr caught out the defence with a quick tap and go only for his mazy run to be ended by the flailing arm of centre Joe Heatley.
With Warr poleaxed, the referee produced the yellow card and Fylde took immediate advantage of the spare man, creating space out wide as Parkinson sent Tom Grimes scorching down the touchline.
Warr had cleared his head to support the break on the inside and dotted down for the bonus-point try, goaled by Smith.
After five weeks out and having put a great shift in, Parkinson was understandably blowing a bit and was replaced by Jacob Conner.
The try of the game came on 50 minutes. Carleton made a great break, then excellent passing and support play ended with Ben Gregory feeding Sam Dugdale, who didn’t have a finger laid on him in scoring a try that had everyone on their feet. Smith’s simple conversion made it 35-10.
Stour worked hard to stem the tide and Fylde had to battle out of their own 22. They finally broke the shackles once more as Henry Hadfield broke several tackles before Smith floated a lovely mis-pass over to Grimes, who cantered in for a deserved score. Smith failed to convert for the only time into the strong wind.
Fylde scored again four minutes later as Conner pounced on a handling error on halfway and kicked through for Connor Wilkinson to scoop the ball up and run in unchallenged. Smith nailed a tricky conversion and it was 47-5.
Parkinson was asked to do 10 minutes’ more graft in place of Vernon, though he could not prevent scrum-half Gareth Simpson scoring Stour’s second unconverted try from the electric Rundle’s scorching break.
Fylde were determined to break the 50-point barrier for the first time this season and it was fitting that the man who started the try-scoring should also complete it. Full-back Carleton’s second try was followed by Smith’s sevent goal.
Man of the match was awarded to Grimes, with Ford a very close second as Fylde kept themselves firmly in the promotion hunt.
Huddersfield’s home defeat by leaders Hull enabled Fylde to replace them in third spot. Spragg’s side remain seven points behind the Ionians, but victories form their remaining six games – including matches against Huddersfield and second-placed Chester – can earn Fylde a second v third play-off spot at least.
Fylde: Carleton, Hadfield, Dowds, Wilkinson, Grimes, Smith, Crampton, Dugdale, O’Ryan, Vernon, N Ashcroft, Parkinson, Ford, Gregory, Rodd; Reps: M Ashcroft, Conner, Loney, Warr, Fowden