Fylde 35 Rosslyn Park 10

Martin Wallwork goes over between the posts for a try
Martin Wallwork goes over between the posts for a try
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Fylde gave one of their best performances of the season on a drizzly afternoon at the Woodlands to outclass a well-organised top-four side.

The home side made the most of a few fortuitous bounces of the ball but for such a complete performance they deserved their luck and their third successive victory.

This was by some distance Park’s biggest defeat of the season and the win lifted a spirited Fylde side up to fifth in National One, just one place behind Park.

Fylde’s pre-match injury doubts all took to the field, including captain Evan Stewart, and in the early stages, Park were intent on pinning their hosts back with measured kicks to the corner, testing Fylde’s lineout. Full-back Olly Viney made sure any wayward kicks were run back with interest.

Park took the lead after 10 minutes, when the league’s leading try-scorer, no.8 Hugo Ellis, found a gap on the blindside from a ruck 25 metres out and threw a dummy and to score.

If the Fylde cover defence was at fault, it was just about their only mistake on an afternoon characterised by their fierce competitiveness at the breakdown.

Fylde answered back in the 20th minute. Fly-half Ross Laidlaw put in a clearance kick only for it to be run back with a vengeance. Backs and forwards combined down a narrow channel near the right touchline before hooker Tom Burtonwood put in a fine pass for winger Ben Rath to sprint over in the corner, his fifth try in five starts. Fly-half Johnson’s attempted conversion drifted wide.

As Fylde continued to press inside the Rosslyn Park half, a loose pass was gathered by prop Pete Altham in the 28th minute, and the man of the match powered through a gap before offloading to lock Gaz Rawlings.

The big lock swandived over for a fine try and a 10-7 lead. Once again the conversion attempt was wide.

In a tight first half, with Fylde looking dangerous with ball in hand, and Johnson and Laidlaw exchanged penalties in the 35th and 38th minutes and Fylde took a narrow 13-10 lead into the changing rooms at the interval.

Johnson gave Fylde a positive start to the 2nd half with another successful penalty kick in the 43rd minute to give his side a 16-10 advantage and a grip on the game that they never looked like giving up.

Rosslyn Park had a spell of possession inside the Fylde 22 but the home side repelled anything that was thrown at them.

The Park backline remained largely unused and their driving maul was not making inroads either. A missed penalty didn’t help their cause.

Fylde dominated the last quarter of the game. Following a turnover on halfway, Oli Brennand gathered and danced down the left touchline.

As he was tackled into touch, he passed inside and found Chris Johnson who romped home from 30 yards to take the score to 21-10.

Park now were struggling to get out of their own 22 as Fylde launched wave after wave of attacks from five yards out only to be held up or to spill in contact.

Whenever the visitors cleared their lines, it just led to more pressure as Fylde’s backs and forwards combined, each time using deft offloads and adventurous running to maintain the pressure.

The coup de grace which sealed the bonus point in the 74th minute was one of Fylde’s tries of the season.

Another Park clearance kick was fielded 80 metres out by Viney and he started a fine handling move which involved Rath, Chris Briers, Arnold and Altham down the middle of the pitch.

With Park running out of defenders, evergreen scrum-half Martin Wallwork stepped past two desperate defenders and put on the afterburners to race clear and touche down between the posts. Chris Johnson converted easily and Fylde had a 28-10 lead.

In the last couple of minutes, Park tried to run the ball out of their 22.

The highly combative Johnson turned it over and in the next phase laid on an inch-perfect crossfield kick for Brennand, below, to collect and run in unopposed for his 16th try of the season.

This performance was the polar opposite of the previ

ous home game against Cambridge and will put Fylde in fine heart for the visit of Ealing Trailfinders on Saturday.

Fylde: Viney, Rath, C Briers, S Briers, Brennand, Johnson, Wallwork, Birchall, Burtonwood, Altham, Arnold, Rawlings, Vernon, Stewarts; reps: Griffiths, Lavelle, Banks, De la Harpe, Kenyon.