Match report: Fylde RFC 10 Darlington Mowden Park 13
This looked anything but a top v bottom encounter as Fylde continued their improvement by testing second-placed DMP to the limit.
Fylde 10 Darlington Mowden Park 13This looked anything but a top v bottom encounter as Fylde continued their improvement by testing second-placed DMP to the limit. It took a 78th-minute try against the run of play to break the hearts of the home side and deny Fylde what would have been the shock result of the season. Although snow and ice resulted in sports fixture being postponed all over the region, the Woodlands pitch was in a good condition and it was a perfect winter's day for rugby. Both squads were missing regular players but their stand-ins delivered an attacking and exciting game.One of the late changes to the Fylde starting line-up was at tighthead prop. Sale Sharks' dual-registered Jake Pope was recalled to the Premiership club and was replaced by Dan Richardson for his full debut.He was soon in the action as the Fylde scrum gained early control, though DMP had the majority of possession and territory in the first 20 minutes. The Fylde defence absorbed the pressure well, despite some barnstorming runs by DMP’s powerful flanker Simon Uzokwe.Fylde gradually forced the visitors back inside their own half and it became a to and fro contest. The deadlock was broken after half an hour, when Fylde's fly-half Alex Dolly kicked high from inside his own 22 and Tom Grimes caught the ball before cutting inside and beating five desperate defenders on a 65-metre run for the line, his sixth try in an excellent first season. Dolly added the conversion.The Fylde pack was by now causing the visitors real problems and a driving maul from a penalty took them over the line. However, referee Ben Davis made a big call by ruling that the ball had not been grounded and DMP breathed a huge collective sigh of relief.The visitors were keen to move the ball through their dangerous backline, orchestrated by impressive fly-half Warren Seals, and the Fylde defence had to be at its most intense to repel their borders and maintain their 7-0 lead until half-time. Early in the second half Fylde turned down a kickable penalty but possession was turned over from the lineout.DMP introduced veteran lock Talite Vaioleti in a bid to wrestle control back and on 59 minutes their pressure was rewarded as fellow second-rower Joe Craggs forced his way over in the corner. The conversion was missed, meaning Fylde took a two-point lead into the final quarter. The fresh legs of Tom Burtonwood and Ben Vernon took Fylde forward and Dolly's penalty extended the lead to 10-5 on 65 minutes.Back came DMP and attacked down the middle, resulting in Fylde full-back Tom Carleton being shown a yellow card for a tip tickle. Seals kicked the penalty from in front of the posts and again the margin was two points.Fylde attacked the DMP line with aggression and intensity despite their numerical disadvantage. From a clean lineout catch the forwards drove over the line only to be denied again by the referee’s call that they hadn’t grounded the ball. Still they pressed inside the DMP 22 but were penalised for holding on in the ruck. DMP cleared downfield and launched a fluent backs move down the right, which ended in powerful winger Shaun McCartney scoring in the corner to the despair of the home supporters. With Carleton back on the pitch, there was just enough injury time for Fylde to launch one last desperate attack. Once again they were penalised at a ruck and DMP kicked the ball dead to end this dramatic game. It is a measure of the quality of the Fylde defence that DMP’s previous lowest points score this season was 21. The average age of Fylde’s starting XV was 23 and the young players are learning fast. This was a display of spirit and courage which will stand them in good stead for Saturday's final away game of the year at Loughborough Students. Fylde): Carleton, Bailey, Wilkinson, Fowden, Grimes, Dolly, Nicholls;Richardson, Gregory, Lewis, Garrod, Parkinson, Corrie, Hopwood, Fairbrother