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28 October 2014
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Fylde RUFC
Fylde RUFC

Fylde 26-3 Cleckheaton

By Allan Foster
Fylde built on their Powergen win by enjoying a 26-3 win over Cleckheaton in front of the biggest crowd of the campaign so far.


The line up:

Cleckheaton:

15 Tom Gwilliam
14 John Bentley
13 Neil Murray
12 Mark Billington
11 Tom Lauriston
10 Glenn Boyd
9 Dominic Castle
1 Paul Turner
2 Steve Worsley
3 Jim Lamptey
4 Cameron O'Connor
5 John Dudley
6 Lance Hamilton
7 Geoff Jones
8 Oliver Akroyd. 

Replacements:
16 Stephen Johnson
17 Oliver Hawkins
18 Ian Gordon
19 Carl Mason

Fylde:

15 Richard Kenyon
14 Mark Evans
13 Paul Green
12 Paul Reeves
11 Stuart Blackburn
10 Mike Scott (c)
9 Paul Newton
1 Matt Filipo
2 Craig McIntyre
3 Richard Hanson
4 Nick King
5 Greg Johnson
6 Roger Banks
7 Andy Atkinson
8 Dylan O'Grady

Replacements:
16 Neil Hilton
17 Alan Holmes
18 Martin Wallwork
19 Daniel Waller

Fylde badly needed to win this game if their disappointing start to the season was to be redeemed. And this was redemption, big style, thanks to an awesome display by their forwards. Its taken a few weeks for Fylde's pack to show their collective capability but it's now clearly evident what a powerful, hard and determined unit they are. They will threaten any side in National Three (North) with a combination of muscle and technique, brilliantly led by No 8 Dylan O'Grady, particularly when midwinter mud replaces the dry pitches of the early part of this season.

Even without star flanker and last season's player of the year, Quentin King, who was celebrating his sister's wedding back in New Zealand, there was no denying Fylde's pretty much complete domination of this game. Cleckheaton had come off the back of three straight wins and an outstanding display to put National Two Harrogate to the sword in last week's Powergen Trophy tie. But apart from 20 minutes in the first half when Fylde were reduced to 13 men as a result of two sin binnings, they could offer little more than dogged defence and a certain meanness in the close exchanges which left three Fylde players with unpleasant facial injuries.

Right from the kick-off Fylde camped in the opposition half. After two minutes Cleckheaton offended in mid-field and home skipper Mike Scott started what proved to be another productive afternoon for this master goal kicker by converting the subsequent penalty.

On ten minutes an unpleasant incident at a ruck led to Fylde prop Richard Hanson leaving the field with a nasty gash around his eye, which required six stitches, and a damaged cheekbone. He didn't return so Neill Hilton came off the bench for his first substantial game of the season. Mike Scott kicked the consequential penalty to put his side 6-0 up.

A couple of minutes later Cleckheaton centre Neil Murray was shown a yellow card for preventing release of the ball on the ground. But with Fylde still re-organising following Hanson's departure the home side failed to take advantage of their extra man. Indeed, some indiscipline crept into their play which saw them lose ground and focus. Cleckheaton fly-half Glen Boyd missed one straightforward penalty kick before punishing Fylde on 28 minutes by converting another. 

This followed the sinbinning of Fylde openside flanker Andy Atkinson who was dismissed for dangerous use of boot. This was Atkinson's third yellow card of the season and an automatic suspension will follow. This was an unfortunate blot on what was his best performance since returning to the Club after three seasons in the extremely physical New Zealand league rugby.

A couple of minutes later a Cleckheaton forward blatantly attempted to interfere with a Fylde forward drive by appearing on the wrong side of a maul and stopping the release of the ball and lock Nick King retaliated with a half hearted punch. He suffered the inevitable consequences when referee Reid sent him to join Atkinson in the sinbin. With the Fylde pack reduced to six players for more than eight minutes surely Cleckheaton would take ample advantage.

Amazingly, the Fylde forwards held their own in the tight exchanges, defended Cleckheaton's drives following lineouts near the Fylde line and defiantly didn't take a step backwards. Behind them halfbacks Paul Newton and Mike Scott kept the game tight and used just the right tactics. Indeed, they battled up into the Cleckheaton half and took the game to the visitors.

With Atkinson and King rejoining the fray, one of the crucial moments of the game unfolded. In the last minute of the half Fylde's forwards were pressing on the Cleckheaton 22 metre line before scrumhalf Paul Newton saw a gap and nipped in for an excellent try. Scott's conversion took his side into what was to prove a decisive 13-3 lead at the break.

The second half was one way traffic as Fylde maintained their domination of possession. Without the ball Cleckheaton could fashion little in the way of a serious challenge. Indeed, its hard to remember them launching a serious attack as they were penned in their own half for pretty much all of the last 40 minutes.

Fylde got off to a flying start to the second period when flyhalf Scott cleverly put his Cumbrian halfback partner in the clear with a delightful pass 40 metres out. Newton saw a cavernous gap in the Cleckheaton defence open up and sped through the middle. He accelerated past a last desperate defender and scored a beautiful try under the posts. Scott converted and Fylde were in the clear with a 20-3 lead.

The Fylde pack retained its almost complete control with veteran prop Matt Filipo in all senses a massive presence. These days Filipo is usually replaced by the 60 minute mark. With Hanson on the sidelines looking on through a heavily bruised and nasty looking right eye, the New Zealander had no option but to complete the full game. 

Throughout the game Fylde's lineout was secure and jumpers Johnson, King and Banks disrupted considerable Cleckheaton ball. In the tight Fylde's pack was superb, often driving their opponents off the ball with ease. It was only the referee who neutered this advantage by penalising the Fylde front row in a fashion sadly reminiscent of southern hemisphere officials. On 50 minutes Mike Scott kicked another penalty to extend the lead to 23-3.

One disappointing aspect of Fylde's play was a lack of penetration amongst their backs compared with their sparkling performance the previous week against Kendal. There were good runs by Richard Kenyon and Stuart Blackburn but beyond the excellent halfbacks it didn't quite work. In one delightful move down the left Richard Kenyon made great break down the touchline. When it looked as if it would have been possible for him to get over the tryline in the corner he passed inside and the ball went loose.

On 68 minutes Scott kicked another penalty in his faultless 100% display. Since returning from nine months away from the game with a serious back injury, he has returned to his superb kicking form as if he'd never been away.

The Fylde forwards pressed on and numerous drives near the Cleckheaton line were held up just short or ball was spilled in the fierce close quarter exchanges.

In the 2nd half Fylde played towards the well populated new Clubhouse balcony. The crowd gave them great support and they didn't let them down. The Clubhouse was throbbing after the game and its clear that it will be a great success for the Club in its commercial endeavours. It's a superb facility which has been well planned and offers something for everybody. The immediate past President of the RFU, Malcolm Phillips, said as much during his presentation of the man of the match to the brilliant Paul Newton.

last updated: 26/10/05
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