Fylde RFC 80 Harrogate 26: Debut hat-trick for Tane Bentley in 12-try triumph
Fylde maintained their 100 per cent start with this overwhelming 12-try victory over the National Two North newcomers.
Flanker Tane Bentley scored a hat-trick on his senior debut as the leaders made it four wins out of four.
Promoted Harrogate had recorded their first victory seven days earlier against Blaydon following defeats to Sedgley Park and Bournville.
Fylde made three changes to the team that beat Huddersfield, with Adam Lanigan coming in for the injured Matt Sturgess at scrum-half, and Charlie Partington also making his debut alongside fellow former Kirkham Grammar pupil Bentley.
Harrogate’s head coach David Doherty brought a weakened squad and was forced into late changes for their first visit to the Woodlands since 2011.
Doherty hoped his bigger and more experienced pack would dominate possession and territory, while Fylde looked to their speedy backs and clever running lines for attacking verve.
Eighteen-year-old Bentley looked anything but overawed as he opened the scoring with only two minutes played, spotting a gap and racing through for a try converted by fly-half Greg Smith.
Winger Tom Grimes, Fylde’s top try-scorer, soon continued his fine start to the season with a try in the corner from a well-timed offload from skipper Ben Gregory.
And when Lanigan picked up Smith’s pass off his toes, he sent supporting flanker Phil Mills over for a third try in the opening 10 minutes.
Any latecomers will have been staggered to see Fylde 19-0 ahead so soon.
Flanker Matthew Landsall got Harrogate off the mark with a close-range try before combative Fylde winger Henry Hadfield finished off a smart backs move by diving over in the right corner.
The trading of tries continued as Sam Brady took advantage of a driving maul to score the visitors’ second on 26 minutes only for a fluent attack down the left to result in full-back Tom Carleton slipping through for Fylde’s fifth.
The whistle sounded the end of a breathless half of action with Fylde 31-14 up.
Fylde’s fitness came to the fore in the second half as a blitz of scoring started when Tom Forster pounced on a Harrogate mistake to score from a kick.
Tries by Lanigan and Matt Garrod brought up Fylde’s 50 with almost half an hour to play.
Bentley backed up a break through the middle to score his second and more superb support play resulted in his hat-trick, making the score 66-14 inside an hour.
Fylde were in ruthless mood, Hadfield and Grimes both helping themselves to a second try either side of a neat one by visiting full-back Sam Parry.
And Harrogate would have the final say as number eight Declan Thompson secured a four-try bonus point for their efforts.
Fylde’s joint-head coach Chris Briers said: “This was a really good performance from the whole squad. There were blips when Harrogate scored a couple of tries but we got back into our flow and the points started to mount up.
“The most pleasing thing is that we didn’t stop. It’s always easy to perform when things are hard, but when you get comfortable it’s sometimes hard to keep the intensity and pressure up. Yesterday we achieved that.”
Centre Scott Rawlings was the coaches’ choice as man of the match, while other standout displays came from Hadfield, the prominent Mills and hat-trick hero Bentley.
Three of Fylde’s tryscorers – Forster, Garrod and Lanigan – came up through the ranks at Fylde from the mini-juniors.
Fylde still top the table on points difference as Stourbridge continue to keep pace with them on 19 out of 20. Two points behind in third are Rotherham, who host Fylde next weekend.
Fylde: Carleton (Jordan 51); Hadfield, Forster, Rawlings, Grimes; Smith, Lanigan; Kyle-Clay (Barrow 43), Gregory (Kyle-Clay 54), Bowker (Ashcroft 40), Parkinson, Garrod, Bentley, Mills (Bowker 73), Partington (O’Ryan 40).