Wharfedale 19

Fylde 32

WHARFEDALE could not overcome a huge first half deficit in a loss to Fylde at the Avenue on Saturday.

Fylde made a flying start to this match played in glorious sunshine in front of another sizeable crowd of well over 500.

That Fylde more or less put the game to bed by half-time when they were leading by 29-0 was a disappointment, but one had to admire their attacking intent.

They opened the scoring after seven minutes when David Fairbrother at No 8 took advantage of a great drive from the pack, just after a try had been disallowed following the first forward surge, to touch down. Greg Smith converted.

A break by Fylde from their own half after Wharfedale's promising forward momentum had been quelled by penalties against them, as well as a knock on inside the the opposition 22, resulted in a Tom Carleton try on 13 minutes. A fortunate bounce helped, but it was just reward for adventurous play at speed. The conversion faded away to the right.

On 20 minutes, Smith kicked a penalty after a high tackle to make the score 15-0.

The penalty count against the Greens was mounting up, but none were for foul play. The first penalty awarded to the Greens was after 27 minutes.

Fylde's third try was scored by Connor Wilkinson, who was later voted Man-of-the-Match. Smith again added the two points.

For the next five minutes, Wharfedale pressed and a great scoring opportunity was lost when there was a knock-on in the centre.

Two minutes before half-time, Tom Grimes scored on the left when a ball popped out of a ruck. It was again converted by Smith.

The 29-0 half-time lead meant that Wharfedale were up against it when playing downhill in the second half.

Within a minute or so of the second half, a kick through by Ben Blackwell when a ball went loose saw hooker Dan Stockdale touching down.

Fylde then completed their scoring with a long-range penalty by the impressive Smith.

After further intense pressure by Fylde, there was a Stockdale burst and debutant James Brookes and Harry Bullough combined to put Ralph Wellock over for Jack Blakeney-Edwards to convert.

A great break by Bullough, as alert as ever, combining with Wellock, put Rob Baldwin over for a try, again converted by Blakeney-Edwards.

More Wharfedale pressure followed, highlighted by a characteristic burst from Matt Speres.

Sadly the final line-out was adjudged not to be straight, so a try which might gave given the Greens two points was denied.

Fylde were worthy winners, having not allowed Wharfedale to play anywhere near their best.

Wharfedale coach Jon Feeley said: "We're disappointed to come away without anything. I felt our second half performance warranted some reward.

"However, we knew that we gave ourselves too much to do after a number of errors in the first half which Fylde capitalised on. This also meant that we spent long periods without the opportunity to create pressure of our own.

"I thought that the boys making their first appearances - Jamie Brookes, Tom Burtonwood and Johnny Moore - are great additions and the returning Ben Blackwell was superb."

It is encouraging that with a whole back-row missing though injury and with two leading players at a wedding Wharfedale can still compete.