Blaydon 30 Fylde 24: Match report and reaction
Fylde have lost eight out of nine league fixtures at Crow Trees, so this latest tough afternoon on Tyneside should come as no surprise.
Blaydon started the day bottom of National One and were desperate to pull off their first win of the season against a Fylde team who have last all their away fixtures so far but remain as committed as ever to running the ball at every opportunity.
Fylde’s problems were compounded by the loss of two props to injury, Jake Pope early on with a neck injury and Sam Simpson in the second half with a calf strain, meaning they played the final 20 minutes a player short and with uncontested scrums.
At least Anthony Bingham’s excellent 77th minute try ensured two losing bonus points. Who knows how important they could be at the season’s end?
Fylde’s preparation for the match didn’t go well as they lost three powerful members of the pack that had done so well against Hull Ionians. Simon Griffiths, George Nott and Paul Arnold were all ruled out through injury or unavailability.
And with Adam Lewis still not fit to return to the ranks, Fylde’s front row resources are stretched. Additional injuries at Blaydon will not make this situation any easier.
Fylde exerted early pressure but Blaydon established control and their forwards began to work through their phases.
Fylde lost fly-half Greg Smith to the sinbin for a technical offence in the 10th minute and Blaydon took advantage.
In the 19th minute, lock and captain Chris Wearmouth was held up on the line, but the Tyneside club then switched direction for centre Tom Grimes to skip over. Full-back Brett Connon added the extras.
Five minutes later, with England Counties number eight Gavin Jones prominent, the home pack drove for the line and scrum-half Nathan Horsfall touched down for a 12-0 lead.
As Fylde went through their slick passing routines, centre Grimes was adjudged to have deliberately knocked the ball on and trudged off to the sinbin.
It was Fylde’s turn to capitalise on the extra man as Matt Lamprey showed a sharp turn of pace and neat footwork to notch his first try for the club. Greg Smith converted and the visitors were back in contention at 12-7.
Blaydon were playing to their strengths and just before the half-time whistle extended their lead. A catch and drive near the Fylde line resulted in hooker Matt Thompson scoring. The conversion was missed but Blaydon took a 17-7 lead into the changing rooms.
Fylde began the second half with energy and in the 47th minute they made the most of a Blaydon knock on in front of their posts, flanker Evan Stewart forcing his way over from close range.
Smith missed the conversion but Fylde were within a score of their opponents.
But on 55 minutes, Gavin Jones finished off another driving maul and Brett Connon added the conversion to give the hosts a 24-12 and seal a four-try bonus point.
Again Fylde hit back as skipper and top scorer Chris Briers beat the defence for his sixth league try of a very productive season for the experienced centre. Smith converted and the deficit was back to five points.
But with injuries reducing the visitors to 14 players, Blaydon upped the ante and forced two penalties in the 73rd and 76th minutes, both converted by Connon to make it 30-19. Yet again Fylde hit back, winger Bingham’s excellent try to secure both a losing bonus point and a another for four tries.
Fylde headd coach Paul Arnold said: “Despite losing two props and being down to 14 players for 30 minutes during the game, we still created enough chances to have won it.
“Our decision-making and accuracy in the opponents’ 22 needs to be better.
“We have to credit Blaydon, who played well and to their strengths, competing strongly at the breakdown and set-pieces.
“But we did create chances and got something out of the game at the death with the two bonus points.
“It’s an overworked cliche I know but there are no easy games in this division. Pretty much any team can beat any other. Playing away from home is a mindset which we need to get right.”
Fylde: Dorrington; Bingham, Briers, Wilkinson, Armstrong; Smith, Dever; Simpson, Burtonwood, Pope, Nott, Turley, Fairbrother, Stewart, Lamprey. Replacements: Wild, Loney, Vernon, Dowds, Nicholls.
England have added Josh Beaumont to their training squad ahead of the autumn internationals as injury cover for. Courtney Lawes.
Sale Sharks lock or number eight Beaumont, a former Fylde player and son of club great Bill Beaumont, was last night due to travel to Portugal for England’s week-long training camp.
Lawes has a knee injury and his club Gloucester expected to miss at the least the match against South Africa on Saturday week.