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Home > News > Fylde 33 - Harrogate 12
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24
JAN

In the midst of the debate about regional v fully national divisions at levels 3 & 4 in the RFU semi-professional league system, Fylde & Harrogate reminded us why good old fashioned Northern contests between traditional rivals can be so fulfilling. Two teams with well established reputations for open, running rugby demonstrated just that at the Woodlands in front of a good sized crowd including a decent contingent of Harrogate supporters. This was hard, uncompromising stuff on a perfect surface, in still, dry conditions.

League leaders Fylde had control of most but not all of the game. Their pack featuring the indominatable Paul Arnold, ground out an advantage over the Yorkshiremen but at some cost in bruises and battered bodies by the end of the match. 'Gate's backs posed a constant danger with the excellence of centre Kyle Dench always evident. But, ultimately, the close exchanges and off-loading of the Fylde forwards and the finishing of their backs, especially Nick Royle, won the day.

On 4 minutes a long drop goal by centre Mike Waywell gave the home side the lead. But eight minutes later a superb move by Harrogate down their right drew the Fylde defence and the highly promising James Broadley cut through for the score. Stand-in kicker James Rothwell converted well and 'Gate had a 7-3 lead. This was to last until the 23rd minute when Man of the Match, lock Nick King, showed composure and strength to burst through from 15m out to claim his first try of the season. Waywell converted and Fylde had their noses in front at 10-7.

A clever chip over the flat 'Gate defence by Fylde fly-half Richard Kenyon on 35 minutes was collected well by centre Stephen Briers and he plunged over the try line. Waywell again converted for a 17-7 advantage.

By this time, Jason Robinson had put in a number of trademark breaks and, on the stroke of half-time, his pace and footwork took him streaking down the Fylde right. He drew the last defender before passing to England 7s star Royle who finished in the corner in fine style for a 22-7 interval lead.

The third quarter of the game after the break was dominated by a resurgent Harrogate. Dench had been taking lessons from Kenyon, for his inch perfect chip and catch put Rothwell in space and the powerful winger finished with aplomb in the right corner. The attempted conversion from the touchline fell short but 'Gate were back in the contest at 12-22 down.

But it was Royle who broke their resistance with two further tries. In the 53rd minute he put in a lovely grubber kick along the right touchline and beat the despairing Smithies to claim the touchdown. Following a rare Fylde penalty kick by Collins, for the Lancastrians generally prefer to run the ball or kick for a attacking lineout, which extended their lead, Royle completed the scoring in the last minute by squeezing into the right corner for the coup de grace. He leaves shortly for New Zealand and the USA for the latest round of England 7s IRB challenge. Fylde will miss him. But it was the sight of an exhausted King leading the Fylde forward challenge in the last few minutes which summed up this traditional, tasty Northern fare.

The Harrogate followers were puzzled as to why playmaker, goal kicker and player-coach Mike Aspinall left himself on the bench. The talented half-back came on late and was restricted to a spiteful bit of 'afters' on Royle following his final try. His club would have expected more in terms of leadership from the former Leeds Tyke player.

Fylde Head Coach Mark Nelson said: “The combative Harrogate defence made it very difficult for us but by patiently changing the point of attack at crucial stages we came away with a good bonus point win.”

Fylde:

Tries: Royle 40, 53, 80; King 23, Briers 35

Conv. Waywell 23, 35

Pen.: Collins 74

DG: Waywell 4

Harrogate:

Tries: Broadley 12; Rothwall 48.

Conv. Rothwell 12.

Man of the Match: Nick King.

Referee: Shane Lewis

Attendance: 576

FYLDE: 15 Jason Robinson; 14 Nick Royle, 13 Stephen Briers, 12 Mike Waywell, 11 Oliver Brennand; 10 Richard Kenyon (Steve Collins 68), 9 Martin Wallwork; 1 Alistair Livesey, 2 Jonny Roddam, 3 Tom Lavelle (Peter Altham 53), 4 Paul Arnold(Ali Sutherland 80), 5 Nick King (Alan Holmes 74), 6 Grant Ferguson, 7 Mark Stephenson, 8 Sam Beaumont.

Non-playing replacement: Craig Aikman

HARROGATE: 15 Ed Smithies; 14 James Rothwell, 13 Kyle Dench, 12 Jamie Broadley, 11 Sam Bottomley; 10 Richard Davies (Mike Aspinall 74), 9 Tom Bugge; 1 James Browne, 2 Steve Maycock (Aaron Yorke 67), 3 Mark Tampin (Ben Innes 67), 4 Jacob Brady (James Spencer 67), 5 Gareth Lodge, 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Dan Harland (Tom Harvey 67), 8 Tim Heaton.

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