Ampthill 43 Fylde 24: Match report and reaction
After taking a maximum 15 points from their previous three National One matches, Fylde were brought to earth with a bump in Bedfordshire despite captain Chris Briers' hat-trick of tries.
It was always going to be a tough challenge for Fylde at the third-placed club’s Dillingham Park and the hosts used their powerful pack to full effect.
Fylde had the benefit of the breeze at their backs and the slope in the first half but they struggled to exploit these on an excellent pitch.
Ampthill took early control and spent the first 20 minutes camped in the Fylde half. They opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a Joe Tarrant penalty in front of the posts.
Visiting fly-half Greg Smith had an immediate opportunity to equal the scores but his penalty kick from a more difficult position went wide.
Former Tonga hooker Aleki Lutui crashed over for the opening try in the 16th minute. Tarrant added the extra points for a 10-0 lead.
This was extended six minutes later, when a lineout catch and drive ended with Lutui again claiming the touchdown. Tarrant was wide with the conversion.
Fylde battled back and started to ask questions of the home defence. Just before the interval, a period of pressure near the Ampthill line resulted in Smith finding a gap to plunge over. His successful conversion reduced the deficit to 15-7 as referee Neil Chivers blew for half-time.
In the 45th minute, the hosts extended their lead when winger Karim Lynch finished a blindside break from a scrum near the Fylde line.
Fylde skipper Briers scored an excellent try four minutes later to put his team back in the game, but Smith couldn’t add the extras from wide out.
But then a succession of Ampthill scrums near the Fylde line resulted in the visitors conceding a penalty try which sealed a bonus point on 56 minutes. Tarrant converted for a 29-12 lead.
Fylde’s ambitious running rugby and offloading were rewarded with a second Briers try on 61 minutes, Smith’s goal keeping his side in the game at 29-19.
However, a second try by Lynch after a good backs move on 65 minutes and a powerful effort by flanker Loti Molitika on 71, both converted by Tarrant, secured the victory for Ampthill at 43-19.
Gritty Fylde weren’t finished and Briers finished off a fine move to complete his hat-trick and seal a bonus point.
Fylde head coach Paul Arnold said: “We basically played 30 minutes of the first half with the slope and wind behind us but without the ball
“Ampthill are a very experienced team, who played the conditions well and controlled the tempo in the first half. We made too many errors from first phase play and lost some key lineouts, which killed us.
“In the second half, Ampthill used the wind and forced us to play from deep, which we did with some success and scored some fantastic tries.
“But every time we got within 10 points we would make an unforced error or give a penalty away and were punished for it.
“The boys never gave up and worked hard to secure the bonus point. We have to move on and focus on a full 80-minute performance against a dangerous Cambridge side next Saturday.”
Fylde: Briers; Armstrong, Bedlow Wilkinson, Bingham; Smith, Nicholls; Pope, Burtonwood, Lewis, Gray, Turley, Vernon Rogerson, Stewart,. Replacements: Wild, Gregory, Lamprey, Blackwell Spragg, Dever.