Sedgley Park 37 Fylde RFC 22: First-half passage of play proves crucial
Excellent conditions at Park Road set the scene for Lancashire’s top two clubs to face each other in an absorbing encounter.
Sedgley Park led the National Two North table going into the match with Fylde fourth.
It was a period of dominance in the second quarter which saw the home side build a match-winning 30-3 lead at half-time.
They extended this early in the second half before Fylde hit back with three fine tries in a 15-minute spell.
It proved too little, too late, for the visitors as Sedgley ran out deserved winners to secure their top spot while Fylde slipped to fifth place.
Fylde started the game very well and dominated the opening six or seven minutes with the home side conceding the first four penalties.
Greg Smith converted the first opportunity to put Fylde 3-0 ahead before hitting the post with a second kick a few minutes later.
Within a couple of minutes, Fylde defenders infringed on their 22-metre line and Sedgley’s Steve Collins converted the penalty to level the scores.
From this moment, Sedgley were pretty much dominant for the rest of the half.
Although scrums and lineouts were pretty even, Sedgeley dominated open play possession with aggressive running and quick recycling, giving Collins plenty of time to pull the strings.
They went ahead in the 17th minute when a clever crossfield kick by Ollie Glasse was collected by Matt Gallagher, who plunged over in the right-hand corner.
Collins converted from near the touchline for a 10-3 advantage.
Fylde’s cause wasn’t helped when Tom Grimes was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on the ball in a Sedgley attack and was yellow-carded for his trouble.
A second Collins penalty extended his side’s lead as Sedgley capitalised upon their numerical advantage and forced their way inside the Fylde half.
The pressure told on the visitors as they were regularly penalised by the referee.
On the half-hour, Collins kicked a penalty for the corner and the ensuing powerful, driving maul was too much for the Fylde defence with Gallagher the beneficiary, Collins adding the extras for a 20-3 lead.
Sedgley had the scent of blood in their nostrils, and in the 34th minute, Collins’ neat chip over the Fylde defence was collected by Andy Riley in the in-goal area.
He grounded it for a clever try, converted by Collins who made it 30-3 on the half-time whistle with a third penalty.
With a leg injury seeing Henry Hadfield replaced by Ben Turner just before the break, Fylde also introduced Matt Ashcroft and Charlie Partington into the fray at half-time.
Things got worse for Fylde early in the second period when a fine break by Jamie Harrison saw him offload well to Glasse, who scored the bonus-point fourth try, Collins converting to make it 37-3.
From this seemingly hopeless position, Fylde hit back and got their running game going.
Tom Carleton started the comeback in the 55th minute, a trademark hitch kick seeing him make something out of nothing to glide through for a fine try with Smith converting from the touchline.
Sedgley were now looking a little ragged and frustrated for the first time all day, losing their shape.
This seemed to galvanise Fylde and give them more self-belief, helped by a yellow for Sedgley prop John Blanchard following a late tackle in the 62nd minute.
Three minutes later, Smith’s lovely midfield break enabled Grimes to race into the left corner and cut the gap to 37-15.
In the 70th minute, Scott Rawlings’ somewhat speculative crossfield kick 10 yards from the Fylde line turned into a high-risk, high-reward play.
Grimes inventively fly-hacked it on the full, kicked ahead again, regathered and raced into the corner for his second try.
It was fortuitous, perhaps, but spectacular in equal measure with Smith’s touchline conversion making it 37-22.
Nevertheless, the home side regained control and played out the final minutes to deny Fylde the chance of a four-try bonus point.
Fylde are back at the Woodlands on Saturday, when Bournville make their first visit to the club.
Sedgley Park: A Riley, Lowthion, Glasse, M Riley, Harrison (Openshaw 71), Collins, Openshaw (Crampton 48); Blanchard (Chilvers 73), Gallagher, Black (Nonleh 26, Black 55), Birtwell, O Crowe, Goodman (E Crowe 51), Lees, Ailes (Nonleh 69). Non-playing replacement: James.
Fylde: Carleton, Hadfield (Turner 35), Forster, Rawlings, Grimes, Smith, Sturgess; Kyle-Clay, Gregory, Bowker (Ashcroft 40), Parkinson, Garrod, Blake, Bentley (Partington 40), O’Ryan. Non-playing replacements: Barrow, Lanigan.
Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 per month for the first two months. Try us today by clicking here