BIRMINGHAM MOSELEY 25
Fylde had to settle for a losing bonus point as both sides deserved credit for staging an entertaining six-try contest in the worst opening-day weather anyone could remember.
It had rained steadily all morning and picked up in intensity during the game. This affected the crowd size, though credit to the Birmingham Moseley supporters, who arrived en masse.
They saw their side take early control and build up a useful lead only for Fylde to hit back with grit and flair. The game ultimately turned on three yellow cards and goalkicking.
Birmingham Moseley went on the attack and fly-half Elliot Bale pulled a penalty attempt just wide after three minutes.
The bigger Moseley pack made early inroads but the home defence was solid.
In the 12th minute, Moseley attacked down the left and centre Molenaar was obstructed by Jordan Dorrington as he chased his grubber-kick. The Fylde full-back was sinbinned for his trouble.
The visitors took immediate advantage of the extra player as outstanding flanker Jack Preece scored from the driving maul which followed the penalty and lineout, Bale converting.
Fylde came back strongly and number eight David Fairbrother showed up early with his powerful running.
In the 22nd minute, Scott Rawlings stroked over a penalty to get the home side on the scoreboard as they were restored to 15 players.
Just three minutes later, Fylde suffered a major blow as Scott Rawlings spilled Greg Nicholls’ low pass inside his own 22 and Moseley skipper and number eight Chris Brightwell pounced to score near the posts. Bale converted easily for a 14-3 lead.
But cometh the hour, skipper Chris Briers took centre stage. He has played very few senior games at fly-half and it was a big call by head coach Paul Arnold to give him this role. From the outset he looked comfortable and on the half-hour made a decisive contribution.
Fylde were pressing and from a ruck Nicholls passed to his captain,who spotted a gap and made a 20-metre burst to the line. Rawlings kicked the conversion and Fylde were just four points behind.
Besides lock Jack Turley and centre Armstrong, a third Fylde player made his league debut when prop Jake Pope, on dual registration with Sale, came on and impressed.
Back came Moseley and in the 33rd minute extended their lead to 17-10 with a penalty. By that time, Arnold had gone off with a painful neck injury, replaced by Simon Griffiths.
Fylde then had a sustained period of pressure running up to half-time. They turned down an easy penalty kick as Griffiths stormed to the line but lost possession in contact.
Fylde’s backs looked more penetrative and imaginative than the visitors and they made major contributions in the third quarter. Dangerous winger Anthony Bingham beat two on a run down the right touchline and put in a grubber-kick. Briers was the quickest to react and touched down.
Fylde’s man of the match aquaplaned through standing water and hit the advertising boards but was not injured. Rawlings’ conversion hit a post and Fylde trailed 17-15.
It was all Fylde at this stage as their forwards stepped up the intensity, led by Adam Lewis, Turley, Evan Stewart and Fairbrother, while replacement Matt Lamprey carried the ball strongly.
Mosely were rattled and scrum-half Dave Brazier stupidly threw the ball away after his side had been penalised and was sinbinned.
A minute later Fylde took due advantage when they attacked down their left. Slick handling gave full-back Dorrington just enough space to race 30 metres along the touchline and score the best try of the day. Rawlings conversion drifted wide but Fylde led for the first time.
Birmingham Moseley then wrested control of the game through their forwards, with lock George Oram always prominent.
A crucial moment arrived on the hour, when Tom Burtonwood was sin-binned for a high tackle and Moseley’s veteran hooker Adam Caves touched down from the driving maul which followed.
On a difficult day for goalkickers, Elliot Bale missed but his side had nosed in front at 22-20.
Moseley kicked whenever possible and retained possession effectively. They strangled the home side and Bale extended the lead in the last minute with a penalty.
Fylde coach Warren Spragg praised th forwards, saying: “The pack worked incredibly hard and their try-line defence was fantastic.
“We had no doubts about playing Chris Briers at fly-half. He’s a fine footballer and, like the rest of the backs, he play what’s in front of him. We benefit from the versatility and interchangability of the back line, with players swapping positions and covering for others.
“The decision to penalise and sin-bin Tom Burtonwood was decisive. We’ve looked at the video and believe it was a very poor decision that determined the fate of the game. ”
Fylde: Dorrington; Bingham, Armstrong, Rawlings, Brennand; Briers, Nicholls; Lewis, Burtonwood, Griffiths, Arnold, Turley, Goodman, Stewart, Fairbrother. Replacements: Pope, Maher, Lamprey, Vernon, Wilkinson.