Fylde RFC 41 Stourbridge 19: Unbeaten record remains intact on centenary celebration day

Top point-scorer Greg Smith goes over for a Fylde try Picture: MARTIN BOSTOCK
Top point-scorer Greg Smith goes over for a Fylde try Picture: MARTIN BOSTOCK

One hundred years and one day on from their first ever competitive game, Fylde maintained their unbeaten start to the National Two North season with this fifth win in six games.

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And even if they could not keep their opponents scoreless, as was the case in the 26-0 victory over Manchester YMCA in October 1919, this was and excellent display to outplay a very able Stourbridge side who began the day in the top four.

An appreciative crowd included 125 who had enjoyed a superb centenary lunch celebration, at which the former Fylde and England centre Malcolm Phillips spoke.

Phillips looked on askance at the first 11 minutes of the game as the Stourbridge backs, in particular winger Dan Rundle, brushed aside some flimsy defending.

Fylde started in a positive fashion but a Stour scrum in the sixth minute led to their backs breaking down the left.

Rundle stepped inside and raced clear with hardly a hand laid on him to score under the posts. Fly-half Chris Scott added the extras.

The early Stourbridge scrummaging was very strong and put the home pack under serious pressure.

In the 11th minute there was a rerun of the first score. The Stour backs made ground down their left and Rundle eviscerated the Fylde defence with a 50-metre burst which ended between the posts. Scott’s conversion gave his side a 14-0 lead.

Gradually the home team fought back and established control. The Fylde back row were proving a real nuisance at the breakdown and a penalty was kicked to the corner.

From this, Fylde gained lineout ball through number eight David Fairbrother and he powered past several defenders to score near the posts. Greg Smith converted and the deficit was halved.

Fylde dominated the second quarter as they worked patiently to find holes in the resolute Stourbridge defence. Various attacks broke down through handling errors or vigorous tackling.

But whenever the visitors did clear their lines, Fylde came back at them and a dust-up near their line saw influential Stour prop Mark George sinbinned on 29 minutes.

Fylde looked to take advantage and attacked strongly down the left, but the ball was dislodged from the grasp of hooker Ben Gregory as he was about to touch down.

Fylde’s determination paid off in the 35th minute as Smith ghosted through a gap and twisted over following several phases of possession. The fly-half converted his own crucial try to make it 14-14.

Straight from the restart, Connor Wilkinson maintained his top form back in the centres as he broke clear from inside his own half to score his sixth try of the season and perhaps his best so far, helped by an outrageous dummy or two. Fylde were in front for the first time and Smith added the goal.

In the final minute of the half, Fylde struck again as all-action Fairbrother broke a tackle on a run from inside his own 22.

The attack continued down the left via Scott Rawlings and Ben Vernon before an excellent finish in the corner by athletic wing Tom Grimes.

Smith just failed with the touchline conversion attempt but three tries in a rampant 10 minutes had turned the game around and Fylde led 26-14 at half-time.

Back at full strength, the powerful Stour pack demanded the utmost respect from Fylde but lost tight-head Chad Thorne to injury.

Rundle remained the dangerman but impressive full-back Ake Lokotui was also a constant threat in an end-to-end contest.

Stourbridge flooded forward and threw everything at the home side but the Fylde defence was fierce.

The first points of the second half extended the Fylde lead on 64 minutes after Rawlings made good ground down the right.

A lovely pass by Smith and a clever running line from Gregory saw the hooker finish off near the posts, leaving Smith a straightforward conversion.

Stourbridge hit back immediately from the restart as winger Reece Beddows sped clear down the right touchline to score in the corner. Scott was unable to convert from the touchline but his side were back in the contest at 33-19.

It was time for some pragmatic tactics from the home side, and when they earned a penalty in the Stour half on 73 minutes Smith kicked them three scores in front.

Fylde weren’t done and they sealed victory two minutes later, when the inexhaustible Fairbrother offloaded after another strong carry to leave Gregory the easiest of the hooker’s tries. This completed the scoring as Smith’s conversion drifted wide but Fylde were conclusive winners.

Thoroughly tested by a good Stourbridge squad, Fylde remain second and just one point behind 100 per cent leaders Caldy.

The entire team justified the plaudits, with Olli Parkinson dominant in the lineout and Fairbrother justifiably named as head coach Warren Spragg’s man of the match.

FYLDE: Carleton; Botha, Wilkinson, Rawlings (Forster 78), Grimes; Smith, Lanigan; Horner (Wild 79), Gregory, 3 Lewis (M Ashcroft 78), Parkinson, Conner, Chapman (N Ashcroft 58), Vernon, Fairbrother.