Fylde 18 Barking 31
WHAT a comedown! And what a come-uppance...
Fylde came crashing down to earth with such a thud it almost registered on the Richter Scale.
They disintegrated in front of their own supporters, giving a performance that was dismaying in the extreme against a team that played for 43 minutes with 14 men and were bottom of the table on arrival at the Woodlands.
If the crowd wanted something to cheer in the wake of England’s capitulation at the hands of the French in the World Cup, then they were in for a huge disappointment.
In fact, they could be excused a sense of deja vu as Fylde were error-prone like England – only much worse.
They fell foul of the referee on 33 occasions, and at a conservative estimate there were probably just as many dropped passes by the home side. From first to last, Fylde coughed up possession.
What was worrying was that they were second-best from the start, and Barking looked far more up for the fray. Whether it was complacency or just a terrible day at the office, Fylde never looked likely to win this, except when they went ahead for the only time on the hour mark.
But that was short-lived as the Essex guys hit back hard, and were on the right end of a couple of contentious decisions.
It was difficult to pick out anyone on this showing, with the honourable exception of skipper Sam Beaumont, who was in a minority of one by being somewhere near his best.
Elsewhere, it was three out of 10 all round – if that!
Fylde’s commendable five-match 100 per cent start to the season seemed a distant memory.
They conceded a penalty in the first minute when Mike Waywell failed to release, and Chris Ashwin gave Barking a 3-0 lead.
Next it was Oli Brennand who was penalised inside his own 22, and Ashwin doubled the advantage. Barking were calling the early shots and Fylde did not help their cause, with a couple of forward passes deep in their own terrain.
Fylde were sluggish, but a break by Stephen Briers took them out of their own half for the first time.
It got worse for Fylde when Gareth Rawlings was yellow-carded for throwing punches at prop Ed Ambrose, who needed treatment for a bloodied mouth.
On 17 minutes, Beaumont was penalised at a line-out but Ashwin’s kick from wide-out sailed wide.
It was a dreadful opening quarter for Fylde, who were being dominated and compounded the problem with serious mistakes.
There was controversy when Fylde prop Pete Altham came off with a blood injury, claiming he had been head-butted. This led to some less than friendly banter between the benches.
Sean Jones, of Barking, was sin-binned and Steve Collins slotted over a penalty which halved the deficit.
Fylde couldn’t get their usually potent runners into play, largely because of some ferocious tackling by Barking, who were proving nothing like a bottom side. That point was underlined when they scored the first try on the half-hour.
Waywell spilled the ball in a double-pronged tackle as he tried to come out of defence. It was moved out to winger Charles Broughton, who evaded tackles from Steve Depledge and Collins to touch down.
Ashwin landed the conversion and the visitors led 13-3.
Brennand was fouled by Francis Ambrose, giving Fylde a good position from a penalty but their driving mauls were repelled.
Barking forward replacement Ambrose was shown the red card by referee Andrew Jackson for a dangerous tackle, and Collins knocked over the penalty.
Close to the break, it looked as though Fylde had given themselves much-needed respite when Nick Royle chipped through and beat at least four men to the ball.
He appeared to have touched down, but to the consternation of the home contingent the score was ruled out, which looked harsh in the extreme.
However, the apparent injustice was corrected from the resulting scrum – Fylde got on a tremendous shove and Beaumont lunged over for a try goaled by Collins, making it 13-13 at the break after a physical and feisty 40 minutes.
Waywell, tackled early in the second half, needed lengthy treatment and was replaced by Ed Binham.
Barking’s 14 men made the running at the start of the second period, with Fylde still a long way from their best and entrenched in their own half.
When they did smuggle out, Beaumont led the attack but Royle spilled the ball in a promising position.
On the hour, Fylde went into the lead. Beaumont sailed high in the air to win a line-out cleanly, and when a series of drives didn’t work out, Kenyon’s pinpoint cross-kick was gleefully touched down by Royle.
The conversion was missed, and Ashwin’s long-range penalty reduced Fylde’s lead to 18-16.
Three minutes later, Fylde conceded a try, which was a shambles from their viewpoint.
Kenyon attempted another crossfield kick for Royle, but the visitors were wise to it this time, and the ball was hacked clear.
Kenyon slid in to reclaim the ball, which squirmed from his grasp and centre Marcus Burcham chased the loose ball to touch down.
Royle looked to have knocked the ball dead behind the line but the officials disagreed.
Barking’s lack of props forced uncontested scrums in the closing stages, in which Brennand was denied by an ankle-tap after a 30-metre break.
Ashwin failed with two penalty attempts, but they counted for little as Barking took advantage of disarray in the Fylde defence with a Joe Hard try.
Ashwin’s goal left Barking two scores in front with seven minutes’ overtime to play, and he added a penalty to complete Fylde’s misery.
After this mess-up, it will need a seismic shift to get back on course at Cambridge on Saturday.
Fylde: Kenyon; Royle, S Briers, Waywell, Brennand; Collins, Depledge (Wallwork); Griffiths (Livesey,60), Loney, Altham (Lavelle,47) Arnold, Ferguson, Rawlings, Thompson, Beaumont.
n FYLDE Wanderers lost 55-5 to Preston Grasshoppers II at Lightfoot Green.