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Fylde 52 Loughborough Students 30
12:35pm Monday 29th September 2008 in Rugby
Fylde overpowered Loughborough Students on another beautiful early autumn day at the Woodlands in an exciting, harem scarem nine-try National Three (North) league game.
The home side's tactical approach of letting their much superior pack hammer the Students into submission didn't surprise anyone.
But it was only in the final quarter when Fylde notched up the points that reflected their superiority.
Loughborough always looked dangerous in broken play and caused considerable embarrassment to Fylde's defence.
A number of handling errors by home side didn't help their cause.
Fylde took immediate early control of the match from the kick-off.
From a 4th minute scrummage 30m from the Students' line, scrum-half Craig Aikman cleverly broke right and set up fullback Martin Wallwork for a neat try, his first of the new season.
Fly-half Steve Nutt converted the try with ease. Loughborough's scrummage was in difficulties in their previous game against Darlington Mowden Park and this contest was much the same.
Fylde's eight created mayhem on the Students' ball and shoved their pack backwards at a rate of knots.
Indeed, one of the most notable aspects of the match was experienced referee Andrew Vertigan's willingness to allow Fylde to scrummage.
Whether through inexperience or other reasons, recent referees at the Woodlands haven't been so generous.
This was old fashioned rugby in which the arts of scrummaging are valued - and none the worse for that.
However, if Loughborough suffered in the tight exchanges they were happy to play the ball around the park.
They hit back immediately as they attacked down their right and highly impressive winger Mike Coady latched on to a kick ahead and forced his way into the corner for an opportunistic try.
Centre Grant Pointer is an unorthodox but effective goal kicker and he converted from wide out 7-all.
Fylde forced their way back downfield and on 13 minutes pressurised the visitors defence with a series of drives by their forwards.
As they did so frequently during the game, the Students offended and Nutt kicked the penalty to put Fylde back in front.
Six minutes later, the Fylde pack mauled their way to the Loughborough try line and Aikman claimed the try in the pile-up of players. Nutt's kick drifted wide but Fylde led by 15-7.
The Students came back and Pointer kicked a straightforward penalty as a home player strayed offside.
But the natural order was re-established when, once again deep inside the Students 22m area on the half-hour, Fylde had a succession of scrums.
Referee Vertigan finally tired of the Students dropping the scrum and awarded a penalty try. Nutt converted for a 22-10 lead.
To compound Loughborough's problems lock Stuart Bale was sinbinned for an illegal tackle on Nutt.
Surely the home side would now kill off the game and run up a hat full of points.
But it didn't work out like this at all, at least not initially.
In fact, the Students proceded to score ten points while without Bale.
After 37 minutes Loughborough set up a move on half way and no 8 Phil Burgess took the ball at pace into the heart of the Fylde defence.
He waltzed through a couple of weak Fylde tackles and raced clear.
He veered around the final home defender and scored a quite outstanding try near the posts.
Burgess, a Harlequins 'A' team player, was to prove a thorn in Fylde's flesh throughout the 80 minutes and looks a fine prospect.
To compound this setback for Fylde, they offended in their own half on 39 minutes and Pointer reduced his side's deficit to 20-22.
Steve Nutt replied in kind with a penalty kick in injury time but Fylde, despite their territorial advantage during the first 40 minutes, took only a 25-20 lead into the half-time interval.
Fullback Martin Wallwork picked up a knock during the half and was replaced at fullback by David Wiseman at the break.
Nutt and Pointer exchanged penalties early in the 2nd half before Fylde re-established themselves deep in Loughborough territory on 63 minutes.
Once again they used their dominant scrummage to good effect and no 8 Sam Beaumont claimed the push over try.
Nutt converted and Fylde had a more comfortable 35-23 lead which he extended with a penalty five minutes later.
By now it was pretty much one way traffic as Fylde stepped up their efforts against the tiring Students.
Fylde moved the ball down their right to winger Nick Royle and he put in a powerful burst through a couple of defenders.
The move was stopped but Royle re-gathered again and this time drove over for the try.
Nutt converted once more and his side had a 45-23 lead.
Both of Fylde's free scoring wingers, Royle and Oliver Brennand had seen a fair bit of ball as Nutt tried to release his backs as frequently as possible.
They looked dangerous but were held in check by the Students' pacy backs more effectively than by many opposing sides.
Centre Tom Albinson was having a quietly effective game in only his second Fylde appearance, making some useful runs and tackling strongly.
Reflecting their never say die approach, Loughborough came back again at the home side.
They moved the ball right on halfway and centre Nathan Lambden set up Mike Coady for an untroubled burst to the line for his second try.
Pointer converted to reduce the deficit to 30-45.
But the last word went to Fylde as they attacked again in the last minute of ordinary time.
Steve Nutt received the ball from a ruck 40 metres out and kicked long and perfectly into the right corner.
Nick Royle caught it comfortably on the full and raced over for a well constructed try, his fifth of the season.
Nutt completed the scoring with a good conversion and a personal match haul of 22 points made up of five conversions and four penalties.
This was an improved performance by Fylde compared with recent weeks.
The team is still 'a work in progress' in these early weeks of the season but Director of Rugby Mark Nelson, despite his troubled countenance on the touchline, must be generally encouraged by what he saw.
The forwards played very well, with everyone contributing usefully.
Openside flanker Dave Wilks was back to his best and always a force at the tackle breakdown, complementing the different skills of Dan Bowman, Sam Beaumont and replacement Dan Palmer.
The front five must be praised for their resilient scrummaging and general power in the loose.
Steve Nutt gave an excellent display of kicking, with nine out his eleven efforts being successful.
With Albinson settling in to the backline and the ever present danger of Royle and Brennand then Fylde should have plenty of try scoring potential in the coming weeks.
But the defence needs tightening up if Fylde are to compete with the handful of leading clubs in the division.
Fylde: 15 Martin Wallwork (David Wiseman 40); 14 Nick Royle, 13 Tom Albinson, 12 Neil Hunter, 11 Oliver Brennand; 10 Steve Nutt, 9 Craig Aikman; 1 Sam Simpson (Andrew Irving 79), 2 Alan Holmes (Chris Tyms 68), 3 Darren Clark, 4 Nick King (Grant Ferguson 73), 5 Roger Banks, 6 Dan Bowman (Dan Palmer 45), 7 Dave Wilks, 8 Sam Beaumont.
Loughborough Students: 15 Peter Clarke; 14 Mike Coady, 13 Grant Pointer, 12 Nathan Lambden, 11 Simon Lilley (Jack Bird 68); 10 Tom Rogers (Tom Mills 69), 9 Henry Pyrgos; 1 Sam Beckett, 2 James Henry© (Thomas George 80+3), 3 Sam Staff (Elliott Booley 80+3), 4 Stuart Bale, 5 Will Wardon, 6 David Hughes, 7 Simon Pitfield, 8 Phil Burgess. Non-playing replacement: Matthew Reeves.