Blackheath 12, Fylde 32
Fylde have struggled to reproduce their excellent home form on the road this season but ended another strong campaign in style in London with this fourth win on the road.
Head coach Paul Arnold was delighted with a performance which lifted his team two places into fourth in the final National One table, the position they occupied for much of a satisfying season.
The teams were level at 12-12 at the interval but a fine second-half performance was capped by a late long-range Oli Brennand bonus-point try.
Blackheath’s Rectory Field has been Fylde’s favourite travelling destination in recent seasons and this was their third successive victory there.
The match started off in the worst possible way for the Lancastrians but in a much better one for Blackheath skipper Tom Bason.
The lock, who led his side out for the 237th and final time, soared in a lineout near the Fylde line to set up a 10th-minute drive from which flanker Dave Allen powered over for his 13th try of the season. Fly-half Alex Gallagher couldn’t add the extra points from wide out.
Fylde managed a superb response in the 24th minute. Blackheath were attacking in force deep in the Fylde half when the visitors earned a scrummage close to their own line.
Half-backs Greg Nicholls and Chris Johnson kept the ball in hand, and great handling and running resulted 30 seconds later in full-back Warren Spragg scoring near the uprights, his 19th try of a very productive season. Chris Johnson converted and his side was in front at 7-5.
The Fylde forwards were working hard to manufacture a decent share of possession and territory. On the half-hour, they were rewarded when prop Adam Lewis drove over the line to claim a try in the corner. Johnson’s attempted conversion drifted wide.
Fylde have often proved vulnerable to conceding points just before half-time and so it proved once again.
In the 37th minute, Blackheath pressure ended with no.8 Ollie Lyons stretching out for a try. Alex Gallagher kicked the conversion to level up the scores at 12-12 as the teams returned to the changing rooms.
Johnson, who is one of the best goalkickers in the National Leagues, gets relatively few chances to kick penalties due to Fylde’s normal tactic of running quick ball, though sometimes they have sacrificed easy points in tight games to their disadvantage.
However, as Fylde upped their level of intensity and Blackheath offended, the visitors adopted rather more prosaic tactics and Johnson’s goals in the 47th and 53rd minutes gave them an 18-12.
For almost 20 minutes the teams battled for control without adding to the scores.
The decisive moment came in the 70th minute, when sustained Fylde pressure ended with centre Scott Rawlings hammering his way over the line from close range for his 13th try of a very successful first season in a claret and gold shirt.
Rawlings is the sponsors’ player of the season winner, but it was players’ player of the season Brennand who closed out this game and the season in dramatic fashion in the 79th minute.
Blackheath were deep inside the Fylde half once again but the visitors managed to turn the ball over. It was passed quickly to Brennand, who burst clear and raced 80 metres for his 26th try of the season. Johnson converted to complete the scoring.