Rosslyn Park 20 Fylde 14
A tremendous National 1 game in the Priory Lane mud
Two of the best attacking sides in the National 1 showed that they could defend just as well in a tremendous match in the Priory Lane mud. Park came out on top but an excellent Fylde side asked them plenty of questions before they emerged with the win.
It did not look like being a close match at all when Park threw everything at their opponents straight from the whistle. An early line out saw Park drive to the line: Fylde defended brilliantly, but at the cost of losing hooker Alex Loney to the sin bin for a professional foul.
Park pressed on and won a 4th minute penalty, fly half Scott Sneddon spurned the 3 points to put his side in a good attacking position. It proved to be a good call as flanker Mike McFarlane crashed over to the left of the posts. Sneddon converted for 7-0.
Fylde’s fast running style is always a threat, even when they are under pressure, and a good break saw them inside the Park 22 but an interception saw home winger Tom Howe launch an equally good counter down the left. The Fylde defence managed to scramble the ball away to touch.
Given the awful pitch conditions following persistent heavy rain some of the handling moves from both sides were simply superb.
Another kickable penalty saw Sneddon go for touch again. Park drove on, but this time were penalised when almost between the posts.
Fylde produced another smart attack, but Park’s counter move was devastating. They wrested possession and skipper Hugo Ellis galloped away down the left flank and, when confronted by a defender, slipped the ball inside to winger Dave Vincent who galloped in to score. Sneddon’s conversion made it 14-0 on 22 minutes.
At this stage Park looked good for maximum points, but Fylde had ideas of their own. They put together a good move to the edge of the 22 where full-back Warren Spragg came onto the ball more or less in line with the posts. There should have been no way through, but he found one evading all attempts to tackle and scored by the posts to give fly half Chris Johnson an easy conversion for 14-7 on 26 minutes. A super try for Fylde, but one that will give the Park defence nightmares.
Park went straight back onto the attack, gaining another penalty launched to touch but Fylde met the challenge and replied with an attack of their own. Park came close to scoring with an attack up the left but the ball was spilled forwards close to the line.
The second half started with another Park attack, met with superb defence and eventually the home side were penalised.
Fylde made a good attack up the left and swiftly worked the ball into the middle where Johnson dived over close to the posts, converting his own effort for 14-14 on 47 minutes.
Park replied by asserting their authority at the scrum, shoving the visitors back some 10 metres before the referee signalled the inevitable penalty. Sneddon stepped up to make it 17-14 on 52 minutes.
A speculative kick-on nearly reaped dividends when Howe chased it up for Park but the move was spoiled by a knock-on. Fylde were now enjoying a lot more possession than previously - aided and abetted by Park’s propensity for conceding penalties after having achieved good field position.
Fylde put together a strong attack that pinned back the home side, but eventually paid the Park defence the compliment of attempting a speculative drop goal when there seemed to be plenty of other options.
With Fylde threatening to get on top, Park were relieved to gain a penalty 12 metres inside the Fylde half with 4 minutes to go. A fine pressure kick by Sneddon increased the lead to 20-14, leaving the visitors needing a converted try.
Park worked their way into a good position, but again got themselves penalised. They then put on another terrific surge at a scrum in the last minute to win a further penalty, but this time Sneddon could not quite make it.
Fylde knew that it was the last play of the match and put together a splendid period of controlled possession. However, Park defended with equal skill and discipline and when the visitors conceded a penalty Park were content to chip the ball into touch and claim a hard earned victory from a terrific game of Rugby.
January 9, 2015