Fylde 61 Darlington Mowden Park 15

First published in Fylde RUFC by

After a run of three successive league games against top opposition without a win, it was fairly predictable that Fylde would take it out on struggling Darlington Mowden Park on a lovely, calm and dry afternoon at the Woodlands.

However, at the half-time interval Fylde led by only 16-10 following a staccato, error strewn 40 minutes.

The home side had gifted two tries to a dogged and brave DMP team and it looked as though this would turn out to be a tight contest.

The North Easterners took their chances with aplomb and must have been surprised yet delighted as they trotted to the dressing rooms at the break.

But a scintillating seven try 2nd half display earned Fylde a 61-15 win and they climbed one place to 5th in the National Three (North) league table.

Davies, Brennand & Nutt all notched braces of tries supplemented by others from Atkinson, Aikman and Stephenson.

Fylde began strongly and an attack after two minutes led to referee Simon McConnell penalising DMP for offside.

Steve Nutt kicked the straightforward penalty to open the scoring.

Darlington wrestled possession on four minutes and experienced fly-half Jon Benson hoisted a high kick into the Fylde half.

Fullback Martin Wallwork attempted to catch the ball on the full but slipped in the process.

Powerful DMP winger Gavin Clegg picked up the loose ball and raced in unopposed for a try.

Centre Ben Snook's attempted conversion fell short but his side had the lead for the one and only time in the match.

The DMP forwards, particularly their strong front row, were fiercely competitive in the first half and initially had the Fylde scrummage in serious trouble.

No 8 Sam Beaumont and scrum-half Craig Aikman struggled to deal with a fast retreating scrum.

It took until the 14th minute for Fylde to exert their superiority through their backs.

In his own half Steve Nutt slipped through one of the many gaps that he found all afternoon in the DMP defence and swept downfield before finding Wallwork who in turn fed the speedy Jordan Davies 30m out from the try line.

The 18-year-old Sale Sharks 'A' and England Academy prospect slipped into overdrive and scored with ease.

Nutt failed with the conversion but his side had established an 8-5 lead which he extended on 28 minutes with a second penalty kick.

Fylde suffered some disruption when Wallwork was forced off with a pulled hamstring.

He was replaced by David Wiseman who moved in inside centre with Mike Waywell switching to fullback.

Orchestrated by fly-half Nutt, the home side were by now moving the ball wide at every possible opportunity.

They were assisted by the sinbinning of DMP lock Luke Monument in the 35th minute.

Fylde's forwards battered away at the DMP defence for a period before home dubutant on loan lock Oliver Atkinson made it two tries in two games when he drove over from close range.

Once more the conversion was missed but Fylde were now in front by 16-5.

Two minutes later Fylde winger Oliver Brennand broke a couple of tackles inside his own half but was caught near the touchline.

The home side's support didn't get to the ball quickly enough and DMP flanker Andrew Tonkin nicked the loose ball and raced 35m through an absentee home defence for an unexpected try.

Fylde's Director of Rugby Mark Nelson raged on the sidelines that his charges had yet again lost concentration just before the half-time break.

One of the exceptions to the general torpor was flanker Dan Bowman who had a fine first period.

Whatever he said in a 'stern' halftime interval pep talk paid startling dividends.

In a ten minute period from the 43rd minute Fylde scored four superb tries and effectively wrapped up the match. Steve Nutt opened this sequence when he darted through the DMP defensive line and sped in from 30m out, adding the conversion for good measure.

Four minutes later from a Fylde scrummage inside the DMP half, Nutt's half-back partner Aikman received the ball from no 8 Beaumont and put on the gas for a lovely individual effort. Nutt's conversion made the score 30-10.

A rampant Fylde were now running everything from all over the pitch.

Another debutant, local boy and hooker Mark Darlington, who has just returned to his old club, made a powerful burst well into the DMP half.

The ball was re-cycled and found Oliver Brennand who made his trademark touchline burst 35m out and dived over in the corner for his 9th try of another productive season.

Three minutes later came the most popular try of the afternoon.

A third home debutant, openside flanker Mark Stephenson, picked up a loose ball 30m out and pinned back his ears as a yawning chasm opened in front of him.

To his delight and that of his team mates - and famous Great Britain RL centre father David watching on the clubhouse balcony - he made the line without a hand being laid on him.

The talented 30-year-old Arnold School and St Helens Academy RL product had spent six seasons with Fleetwood in the lower leagues before following his father to the Woodlands and has impressively made the step up to national league rugby.

Nutt's successful conversion made it 26 points in 10 minutes and Fylde had an unbeatable 42-10 lead.

DNP's heads didn't go down and from this hopeless position they controlled much of the next 15 minutes. They battered away at the Fylde try line before powerful prop Dan Miller forced his way over from short range.

In another attack the visitors moved the ball left along their backline and it seemed inevitable that Clegg would score his second try in the corner.

As he was about to dive over to claim the score, Fylde acting fullback Mike Waywell, who had another fine game, came from nowhere and smashed him into touch.

Fylde reasserted control and on 65 minutes Nutt notched his second try finishing off a period of interpassing by backs and forwards.

Their cause wasn't particularly affected by going down to 14 men with the sinbinning of prop Andrew Irving on 70 minutes.

In the last few minutes Fylde added the icing to the cake with two final tries.

On 79 minutes a bewildering interplay amongst the home backs saw Jordan Davies come off his right wing berth and appear down the left channel and he wove his way to the line for a fine try under the posts.

England Counties wing Nick Royle, still limping badly from an ankle ligament injury picked up playing on loan for Sale Sharks, looked on from the stand and must have been impressed by the precocious youngster who was borrowing his '14' shirt.

In injury time came perhaps the best of Fylde's nine tries.

Oliver Brennand received the ball 35m out and instead of trying his luck as usual along a crowded left touchline he arched infield and ran diagonally through and around eight DMP defenders before swallow diving over the line to the right of the posts and in front of a noisy and delighted clubhouse crowd. Nutt's conversion rounded off an impressive afternoon with a personal haul of 26 points.

Mark Nelson was delighted by his side's 2nd half performance but was much less impressed by their first 40 minutes.

"I told the players at half-time that if we played the patterns that we have worked on so hard in training then we would exploit the gaps that would appear.

"My Man of the Match was Jordan Davies who had a fine game and is improving each week. This shows the benefits of our relationship with Sale Sharks.

"Young players with much potential can have spells with us and serious league competition will assist their development.

"The same has been true of Mike Waywell who joined us last season and has worked so hard in the gym during the close season with significant dividends.

"I was also very pleased by the performance of home debutants Mark Darlington, Oliver Atkinson and Mark Stephenson.

"We have to build a squad in which every position in the starting line-up is being challenged for.

"And the players are buying into this squad ethic."

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