Caldy 25 Fylde RFC 18: Woodlands side suffer first defeat but stay top of league

David Fairbrother on the charge for Fylde at Caldy  Picture: FYLDE RFC
David Fairbrother on the charge for Fylde at Caldy Picture: FYLDE RFC

Fylde lost their unbeaten record but fought hard throughout an exciting contest and a losing bonus point keeps them top of National Two North.

READ MORE: Spragg had hoped to toast England win at Caldy

Caldy had sufficient control of the set-pieces to edge this battle of the top two in wet conditions which favoured their powerful pack.
Fylde gave a debut to Joe Carpenter, a dual-registered full-back from Sale Sharks, and took the lead in the 13th minute with a straightforward penalty by fly-half Greg Smith.
Caldy centre and goal-kicker Gavin Roberts responded almost immediately when Fylde were pinged by referee Owen Taylor for not releasing the ball in a tackle.
The Fylde scrummage came under pressure from the bulky Caldy pack and conceded a penalty in the 18th minute.

This was kicked to the corner and a powerful driving maul paved the way for former Fylde winger Nick Royle to amble in on the right
Roberts converted well from near the touchline and Caldy had a 10-3 advantage.
Fylde's running game was a constant danger and in the 24th minute they hit back as excellent handling by forwards and backs ended with winger Tom Carleton racing in at the right corner. Smith's goal levelled the scores.
Play was now end to end and Caldy regained the lead on the half-hour as a fluent attack ended with centre Mike Barlow diving in at the left corner.
Again Roberts converted well from wide out for a lead his side would never relinquish.
Fylde finished the half strongly but a knock on prevented them taking advantage of a penalty kicked to the corner.
An exhilarating half between two sides well drilled and executing plays with precision ended with the hosts 17-10 ahead.
Fylde introduced a second Sharks player for the second half in flanker Sam Dugdale, the Kirkham Grammar School product having impressed at the Woodlands last season.
However, the second period began with a crucial home score. From another scrum penalty, Fylde were unable to defend a textbook driving maul and hooker Ted Stagg claimed the try.
Roberts was unable to convert this time but there was daylight between the teams at 22-10.
Fylde responded in the best possible way, pressing Caldy back in their own half before setting up a fine move.
From a break by centre Connor Wilkinson, the ball was kept alive to create an overlap for Carleton to grab his second try.
Smith's conversion attempt drifted wide but at 22-15 Fylde were right back in the contest.
A lot of the play was now in midfield as both sides struggled for the next crucial score.
Fylde were unable to break down the aggressive home defence, then conceded a penalty on 68 minutes for pulling down a driving maul and Roberts kicked his side 10 points clear from in front of the posts.
Fylde battled back gamely and Smith kicked a penalty a 74 minutes to close the gap to seven for a bonus point.
They continued to press for an equalising try and goal but handling errors in the damp conditions undermined their efforts.
But by denying Caldy a fourth try for bonus point of their own Fylde retained top spot, though the Wirral club have a game in hand.
A seven-point gap has opened up between second and third after Sedgley Park lost 23-18 to Loughborough Students, who are next Saturday's visitors to the Woodlands.
Fylde head coach Warren Spragg said: "Caldy are without doubt the best team we’ve faced so far this season and we knew we were going to have to battle for everything on a wet day which suited their heavy forwards.

"We’re disappointed not to get the win but I’m really pleased that we stayed in the fight and were smart enough to close the gap for a point that keeps us top of the league."
Fylde: Carpenter, Carleton, Wilkinson, Rawlings (Forster 67), Grimes; Smith, Lanigan; Horner, Gregory (Loney 64), Lewis (M Ashcroft 67), N Ashcroft, Parkinson, Connor (Dugdale 40), Vernon (O'Ryan 75), Fairbrother; not used: Owen