Fylde RFC 50 Sandbach 22: Wilkinson hat-trick in first Woodlands warm-up match

Head coach Warren Spragg addresses his players at Saturday's game Picture: CHRIS FARROW / FYLDE RFC
Head coach Warren Spragg addresses his players at Saturday's game Picture: CHRIS FARROW / FYLDE RFC

Fylde cast off summer cobwebs in the first of their two pre-season warm-ups at the Woodlands.

The final scoreline didn’t reflect a well-contested game in which the Midlands Premier Division visitors trailed 24-17 at half-time, having had 60 per cent of succession.
It was only in the second half that Fylde’s superior attacking strength dominated the gutsy and well-organised Cheshire outfit.
Fylde withstood early pressure but scored first when hooker Ben Gregory, who went on to have a fine game, dodged his way over the line from 20 metres out.
Sandbach pulled level when a sloppy Fylde pass was intercepted and winger Jack Leech raced along the touchline to score in the left corner.
Fylde looked dangerous and when scrum-half Cameron Crampton broke down the centre against his old club, winger Lex Botha created enough space for centre Connor Wilkinson to score near the posts. David Reed converted for a 12-5 lead.
This end to end play continued and pressure by Sandbach led to a try in the right corner to cut the gap to 12-10.
Fylde centre Ralph Dowds then forced his way over down the right to restore the seven-point lead.
The home side were guilty of losing some ball in contact and the Sandbach forwards created a platform for their centre to level the match at 17-17.
At the end of this see-sawing half, Fylde regained the lead as prop Elliot Horner broke from halfway and linked up with lock Matt Garrod. The ball was moved right for full-back Tom Carleton to add a converted try.
The second half was a different story as Fylde took control. Number eight David Fairbrother, now back to full fitness after an injury-disrupted season, went on a lung-busting 50-metre run and had Gregory on his shoulder to score near the posts. Tom Forster converted for 31-17 after taking over the fly-half role.
The next 15 minutes became the Wilkinson show, starting when he took an inside pass to score from 35 metres after a break down the left touchline by winger Sam Fisher.
The centre set up the next try, breaking down the middle and kicking behind the defence for Forster to touchdown.
Minutes later man of the match Wilkinson went on a slalom run around hapless defenders from inside his own half to score between the posts a complete a hat-trick, the conversion bringing up Fylde's half-century.
Sandbach didn't give up and scored an excellent consolation try in the left corner in the final minute.
Winger Leech was always dangerous and scored a twice, with Keiran Allsop and Sam Winstanley their other Sandbach try-scorers.
It was good to see young local players Adam Lanigan, David Reed, Sam Fisher, Jonny Wild, Tom Forster, James Torkington, Luke Woodward, Adam Joiner, Ben Gould and Fraser Stanier enjoying an opportunity at first team level for Fylde, whose new signings Hal Chapman and Drew Stephenson also impressed.
Fylde’s preparation steps up a level against National One Hull Ionians at the Woodlands on August 31.