Sedgley Tigers 20 Fylde 59

Fylde Rugby v Cambridge.  Oli Brennand for Fylde.
Fylde Rugby v Cambridge. Oli Brennand for Fylde.

Fylde earned bragging rights among Lancashire’s senior teams and, more importantly, climbed two places to seventh in National One with this comprehensive nine-try win at Park Lane.

This was Fylde’s biggest win of the season but was not straightforward until a 21-point blitz either side of half-time.

Sedgley started in fine fashion in front of a disappointingly small crowd and within three minutes impish fly-half Steve Collins darted through some leaden-footed tackling by his old team-mates and swerved his way to a good try from 30 metres out. Matt Riley added the extras.

Sedgley were dominating possession, but when Fylde did manage to attack their lock Paul Arnold, who learned his senior rugby on this ground, picked up 5 metres out and forced his way over for the try on 13 minutes. Fly-half Chris Johnson converted via a post and the scores were level.

Riley kicked a straightforward penalty for offside in the 17th minute, but back came Fylde andArnold’s lock partner Gareth Rawlings drove over for the try on 22 minutes. Johnson’s conversion attempt drifted just past the left upright but Fylde had their noses in front 12-10.

On the half-hour, Sedgley took the lead once more with another steepling Matt Riley penalty. The tackle breakdown was fiercely contended but Fylde were committing silly offence, and Sedgley’s tall new lock Phil Hoy was influential at the line-outs.

Collins tried to put in a grubber behind the Fylde defence but the ball hit Oli Brennand’s legs, and he hacked on before diving over for an opportunistic try, his 12th of the season. Johnson’s conversion narrowly missed the goal but his side had a lead they weren’t to relinquish.

Fylde continued to attack and in the 37th minute Sedgley’s blindside flankerAndy Boyde, making his debut after joining the club from Doncaster, was yellow-carded for not rolling away from a ruck 10m out from his line.

The Fylde pack drove their weakened opponents backwards for no 8 Sam Beaumont to plunge over for the try. Johnson converted and Fylde took a rather unexpected 24-13 lead into the interval.

With a man advantage, Fylde attacked at the start of the second half and Mike Waywell made a muscular 25-metre burst to go under the posts. Johnson converted.

Three minutes later, superb Fylde forward play prefaced a sweeping move left by the backs. A long pass left Brennand in acres of space to scorch past the defenders and touch down near the posts. Johnson converted once more and Fylde had established a match-winning 38-13 lead.

With the Tigers back to full strength, the game settled down until the hour-mark, when Fylde scrum-half Ryan de la Harpe burst clear down the centre to outpace the defence in a 40 metre burst between the posts. Johnson added the conversion for a 45-13 score.

By now, all the Fylde forwards were playing their part in broken field running and in defence. Man of the match was Peter Altham, who was a mobile and powerful presence throughout the game alongside hooker Jonny Roddam and fellow prop Dan Birchall, who returned in triumph to his old stamping ground.

There was no stopping Fylde and two minutes later Waywell raced through the hapless home defence for his second try to bring up the half-century before Johnson added the conversion.

The visitors’ defence had been tenacious but in the 66th minute they were breached by good combination play which ended with replacement scrum-half Simon Parrott jinking his way over for a good try. Collins converted.

But Fylde were to have the last word. Prop Simon Griffiths is proving a useful impact replacement and he came into the threequarter line down the right.

Johnson, having a fine game on his return to the starting line-up, aimed a high crosskick at the left corner. Brennand caught the ball superbly around his ankles and dotted it down over the line to complete his hat-trick. Johnson finished off a successful afternoon by converting from the touchline.

Fylde: C Briers; Viney, S Briers, Waywell, Brennand; Johnson, De La Harpe; Birchall, Roddam, Altham, Arnold, Rawlings, Stewart, McGinnis, S Beaumont. Replacements: Griffiths, Burtonwood, Vernon, Wallwork, Kenyon.