Fylde 27, Richmond 29
The Woodlands Memorial Ground is the place to go for drama - provided you don’t want your nerves shredded too much.,
A Fylde fightback, which had looked highly unlikely at 26-10 down, just failed in agonising fashion in a match that was settled for the second home game in succession with the last kick of the match.
It had been Fylde who had won it in that manner in the season opener against Loughborough - but the tables were turned on this occasion, a Richmond penalty in the fifth minute of overtime settling the issue.
The home side must have thought they had won it when they went ahead at 27-26 with an Oli Brennand, superbly converted by Chris Johnson, but they failed to see the game out and it was Richmond kicker Ross Jones-Davies, who was the last gasp hero as he landed a straightforward attempt, well straightforward as any kick, coming so late and with so much riding on it.
The contrast in Fylde’s form in the two halves could not have been more different.
They were out-played in the first period, but came back strongly after the interval and started to look like a cohesive unit.
Oli Brennand scored two tries and was a constant threat as was the other Fylde try-scorer on the other flank, Jordan Dorrington.
It was no coincident that an upturn in Fylde’s fortunes came with the introduction of hooker Phil Mills, whose industry had no small effect in galvanising his side’s revival.
Fylde so nearly pulled themselves out of the mire, but always left themselves with a major obstacle to overcome giving away so many points and possession early on against aggressive, determined opponents.
It made for a tough baptism for new second row recruit Nick Gray, who had something of a testing introduction,
The home side started the match on the front foot, putting the Richmond rearguard under severe pressure, forcing them to conceded a penalty stroked over by Chris Johnson on five minutes.
Richmond retaliated in kind and levelled the scores five minute laters with a Rob Kirby penalty.
The visitors had a period when they enjoyed plenty of possession, pinning Fylde for a significant spell.
After that had been withstood, Fylde won a line-out in a promising position - the play went through several phases after the home side won quick ball, and Dorrington showed strength and speed to sprint over on the right wing after latching on to a pass from Ryan De La Harpe.
Johnson added an excellent conversion to this 18th minute try to give his side much-needed breathing space.
Richmond came back at Fylde with a vengeance, Kirby gaining valuable ground with a penalty to set up an attacking platform from which they made no mistake.
The Londoners harassed Fylde with a rolling maul, finishing off with back row forward Jack Allcock touching down.
Kirby added the goal points to end Fylde’s short-lived advantage.
Two minutes later and Richmond went ahead for the first time - indifferent Fylde tackling was the root cause, and Kirby rounded the move off by planting the ball over in the left-corner.
Kirby was unable to augment his own try, but Richmond had grabbed the initiative and were starting to set the pace.
Problems piled up for Fylde, and Richmond scored a third try after 34 minutes, with Fylde very much the authors of their own misfortune.
They lost the ball to the
It became more optimistic of a Fylde recovery when Johnson booted over a penalty on the 70th minute.
Eight minutes later and Fylde’s comeback looked like becoming complete.
An exciting move resulted in Dorrington finding Brennand on the outside and the Fylde winger sped in for a try - Johnson’s magnificent touchline conversion put Fylde ahead 27-26.
Johnson then kicked away possession giving Richmond a late chance - the miskick allowed Richmond to launch a counter, but Fylde gave away a penalty and it fell to Jones-Daves to try and put his side in front again.
However Fylde breathed a huge sigh of relief as the decisive kick was well short of the sticks.
But it was to be Richmond who got the last laugh.
In the fifth minute of overtime, Fylde were penalised at a ruck, and Jones-Davies was not found wanting as he kicked the winner to deny the home side, who had the cold comfort of a bonus point.
It could easily have been four for Fylde, but Richmond on balance were worthy victors.
Fylde: Spragg; Dorrington, Dowds, S Rawlings, Brennand; Johnson, De La Harpe; Birchall, Burtonwood, Griffiths, Gray, Prisk, Goodman, Vernon, Moon. Replacements: Lewis, Maher, Gore, Mills, Allen.ir own line-out throw and there was no recovery for Fylde - the attack ended with Richmond scrum-half making a diagonal run to the line, which resulted in an unconverted try.
Kirby missed that conversion and a penalty two minutes later from long range, the score staying at 20-10 in favour of the Londoners, who had had the most of the majority of possession they enjoyed in the first half and thoroughly merited their lead.
Brennand made a break out of defence in the moments before half-time and for a split-second a try looked on the cards until Fylde lost the ball, symptomatic of a seriously below-par first half in which Fylde had struggled to contain such Richmond danger-men as the lively Stuart and Allcock.
More lost ball in the early stages of the second half gifted Richmond a penalty, which Kirby landed after 43 minutes, only adding to Fylde’s woes on a difficult afternoon.
Then Dorrington was pinged by the referee for not releasing - Kirby essayed a kick from 45 yards and made no mistake as Richmond were now racing away from Fylde at 26-10.
But on 56 minutes Fylde produced arguably the best move of the match, attacking Richmond at will.
Dorrington nearly made it over on the right before the ball was shifted to the exposed left flank - any one of three players could have run in for the try, but it was Brennand who produced the final flourish. Johnson’s conversion reduced the arrears to two scores at 26-17 and more than a vestige of hope at long last.