After the caviar of the last two matches when Fylde ran up 114 points, there was more modest gruel on offer at the Woodlands against a good Hinckley team on Saturday.
This was Fylde’s second home defeat of the campaign but, despite a very poor first half and a deficit of 15-0 at the interval, they fought their way back bravely in the second half and took the lead with 15 minutes left.
But the Hornets had a sting in their tail and two late tries clinched a bonus-point win for the fourth-placed club in National Two North.
The opening minutes of the game set the pattern for the first 40 minutes with Fylde hurried and rather careless with the ball in hand.
In the third minute they were penalised in front of their posts and Hinckley’s Joe Wilson kicked an easy goal to open the scoring.
Fylde tried to play their usual expansive game but frequent knock-ons frustrated their attacking moves as they pressed inside the visitors’ half.
The tight exchanges were even with neither pack of forwards dominating in the lineouts or the frequently reset scrummages.
In the 23rd minute, Hinckley worked their way to 30 metres from the Fylde line and scrum-half Ben Pointon raced through a gap to score the opening try of the game.
Wilson converted easily and the Hornets had a 10-0 advantage.
If the home supporters hadn’t realised the size of Fylde’s task, the reality struck them forcibly three minutes later.
A clever Hinckley move on halfway opened up the right side of Fylde’s defence.
The ball was worked out to winger Callum Dacey, who outstripped the home defence and scored an excellent try from 40 metres out.
The 15-0 scoreline looked ominous for Fylde but they then set up a sustained period of pressure inside the Hinckley half and forced a series of penalties against the visitors, hammering away at their line.
Fylde spurned chances of an easy three points in an attempt to score a try or two in the closing minutes of the first half .
However, each time, their efforts were stymied either by fierce Hinckley defence or handling errors with the visitors happy to hear the half-time whistle as a handsome lead promised much.
Fylde started the second half with more aggression, accuracy and intensity.
In the 47th minute, they attacked down their left and winger Tom Grimes chipped cleverly over the Hornets’ defence.
He was tackled high and late by visiting full-back Rory Vowles with a period in the sinbin the inevitable result.
As the pressure on the Hinckley defence intensified, they conceded a string of penalties but Fylde still could not find a way through the visitors’ defence.
In the 54th minute, Hinckley lost another player to the sinbin as prop David Peck joined Vowles on the sidelines.
Fylde moved the ball right through their backs and Tom Carleton squeezed over in the corner for a good try.
Greg Smith’s attempted conversion into the wind wasn’t successful but at least Fylde were on the scoreboard.
David Fairbrother was becoming increasingly visible with charging runs into the heart of the Hinckley defence.
Vowles returned to the action but, with Hinckley still a player short, another Fairbrother burst fed centre Chris Briers who dived over for his side’s second try.
Once again, from wide out, Smith’s attempted conversion was short but the deficit was shrinking.
Fylde were now on a collective roll and almost immediately, in the 63rd minute, they took the lead.
The home pack went through several phases of retaining possession and driving forward 20 metres out from the Hinckley line.
Flanker Phill Mills burst through with excellent pace to score a try under the posts which brought great acclaim from the crowd.
Smith’s straightforward conversion gave his side a 17-15 lead and the first half seemed just a bad memory.
Life is rarely that straightforward if you are a Fylde supporter.
A wild miss pass that went into touch gave Hinckley possession on halfway and an offence at an ensuing ruck allowed Wilson to find touch deep in Fylde’s half in the 69th minute.
The subsequent maul rumbled towards the Fylde ine and replacement Matt Lasis was credited with the score.
Wilson converted well and his side had the lead once more at 22-17.
Fylde tried to hit back but their huffing and puffing came to nothing.
In the 76th minute, Hinckley applied the coup de grâce as flanker Olly Povoas weaved his way through some ineffectual tackling and broke clear from halfway to score the concluding, bonus point-winning try.
Joy was unconfined for the East Midlanders and the final whistle blew a few minutes later.
Fylde could have no complaints after a lacklustre performance not in keeping with their recent displays.
All sides have bad days and this will certainly have a been a big disappointment, not least to the players.
Fylde: Wilkinson; Carleton, Briers, Rawlings, Grimes; Smith, Lanigan; Horner, Gregory, Lewis, N Ashcroft, Garrod (Vernon 51), Chapman (Conner 51), Mills, Fairbrother. Non-playing replacements: M Ashcroft, Stephenson, Botha.
Hinckley: Vowles (H Povoas 60); Wilson, Lamb, Smith, Dacey; Wheatcroft, Pointon (Glover 74); Harvey (Peck 67), Johnson, Peck (Lasis 66), Weaver (Harper 63), Salt, Skerritt, O Povoas, H Povoas (Lasis 48, Moreton 60). Non-playing replacement: Coltman.