Huddersfield 15 Fylde RFC 22: Third straight win sends Fylde to top of table
Fylde missed out on a four-try bonus point for the first time this season but this third straight victory lifted them to the top of National Two North.
They have struggled to impress at Lockwood Park in recent years and this clash again demonstrated the determination of Huddersfield to fight to the end on their own patch, though Fylde’s error count was disappointing.
Fylde began with their usual attacking verve but Field were also on their game and forced the visitors back inside their own 22.
But from a wayward home lineout, Phill Mills broke clear and slick handling by the backs allowed centre Scott Rawlings to drive for the line. However, the Huddersfield defenders held him up over the line.
This proved a temporary relief for the home side as wing Henry Hadfield sliced through their defence on eight minutes. Swift, accurate handling then resulted in Tom Grimes forcing his way over for a try on the opposite wing and Greg Smith’s touchline conversion was a beauty.
As play shifted from end to end, Grimes was held up over the try-line, which results in a goal-line drop-out this season rather than a five-metre scrum.
A powerful Rawlings break and swift hands then resulted in Grimes beating the last defender and squeezing into the left corner for his second try. This time Smith’s conversion attempt drifted wide but Fylde had a deserved 12-point lead.
Huddersfield struck back immediately as they pressurised the visitors and hooker Liam Stapley picked an excellent line to power over for a try converted by centre Will Milner, reducing the arrears to 12-7.
Field were warming to their task and cut the gap to two points with a long-range goal from a scrum penalty.
This was as close as the hosts got, however, as Fylde wrestled back control as half-time approached.
Mills broke from a lineout, threw a lovely dummy and skated through to the line in acres of space, Smith converting from in front of the posts.
Flanker Mills was having an outstanding game, in possession at the tackle breakdown, as Fylde led 19-10 at half-time.
The second half was a fierce battle, with Field determined to claw their way back into the contest, while Fylde’s attacks were rebuffed by sound defence.
They gave a rest to both starting props, Sam Kyle-Clay and Corey Bowker, while number eight Marcus Blake gave way to another former Kirkham Grammar School product proudly making his first XV debut, Charlie Partington. Tom Carleton picked up a knock and was replaced by the experienced Scott Jordan.
Fylde’s lead was no guarantee of victory and hooker Stapley almost repeated his earlier success as Field pressed.
Fylde’s work at the breakdown was impressive but they were unable to turn penalties into points until the 67th minute, when Smith nailed a tricky kick to extend the lead to 12.
But back came Huddersfield to spend most of the last 10 minutes inside the Fylde half.
The injured Smith was replaced by Adam Lanigan and Field’s pressure was rewarded with a neat try by scrum-half Jonny Mason on 79 minutes.
Milner was unable to add the conversion but his side were good value for their losing bonus points.
Although joint-head coach Chris Briers was pleased with a second away win, he said: “Today proved a real test and we think we could have given a bit more.
“We were frustrated at times and kicking ourselves we didn’t come away with all five points.
“The Huddersfield lads are real fighters and didn’t give us anything.
“In those moments when we would normally expect to score, they put intense pressure on us and forced errors.”
Fylde top the table on points difference from Stourbridge, the only other club to have won all three games.
Fylde: Carleton (Jordan 62); Hadfield, Forster, Rawlings, Grimes; Smith (Lanigan 73), Sturgess; Kyle-Clay (Ashcroft 48), Gregory, Bowker (Barrow 48), Parkinson, Garrod, Corrie, Mills, Blake (Partington 55).
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