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Fylde 33-17 Blackheath
Two late tries gave Blackheath some small solace for the long journey home, but shouldn’t disguise the simple truth that for 70 minutes of this one-sided contest the visitors were totally outclassed but a superior Fylde side.
Club had travelled to the Lancashire coastline in anticipation that the winter deluge would have softened the playing surface at The Woodlands Memorial Ground, negating Fylde’s expansive style of play.
But the reality soon dawned that, despite the battering from the elements in recent days, the pitch held up superbly, doing nothing to hinder the movement, pace and slick handling that has seen Fylde score an average of over four tries a match and keeping them in contention at the top of SSE National League One.
Sure enough, four of Fylde’s five tries in this encounter came from broken play, the only exception being their opening effort on ten minutes.
Blackheath’s cause throughout would be hampered by unforced errors, and a penalty conceded when driving for the goal-line at the maul, followed by a kick to touch on the full and a lost line-out gifted 80m, enabling Fylde to probe at the defences from their own throw-in before centre Chris Briers found a hole to dive through.
Simon Whatling got the visitors on the scoreboard with a long-range penalty, but almost immediately Fylde created a three-man overlap in their own half of the field for No 8 Evan Stewart to send scrum-half Ryan De La Harpe in for a second try.
And although Blackheath mounted some solid defence, holding the ball up over their own try-line on two occasions prior to the interval while temporarily being down to 14-men, at 14-3 the Lancastrians were already stretching away.
Soon after the re-start they were out of sight.
Three further tries were added in the third quarter, the first in the 44th minute, and although it was the explosive Fylde wings Oli Brennand (twice) and Warren Spragg who were the beneficiaries, the scores owed much to speed, handling and superb off-loading of the entire side, and in particular second-rows Paul Arnold and Joseph Robinson.
Nevertheless, not everything Fylde tried came off (just as well!) and a combination of the hosts easing back, and a spark of life injected from the Club bench, in particular George Oram, Chris O’Neill and Jack Walsh, gave Blackheath the final word.
Dave Allen’s turnover set up a well-executed (almost Fylde-like!) move that saw Ben Summers hare down the right flank for a score, and the open-side himself was at the bottom of a pile of bodies that threw the kitchen sink at the Fylde goal-line in the final seconds.
But Blackheath will need 80 minutes of that kind of effort if they’re to achieve a vital win when Loughborough Students visit Rectory Field next Saturday (3pm).
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