Fylde took the first step in the defence of their Lancashire Bill Beaumont Cup title by winning a tough 1st round tie by 27-22 at Rochdale RUFC. The newly promoted National Three (North) club put up a feisty performance against their more senior opponents and used home advantage to good effect. The staritng lineup featured four players making their Fylde 1st XV debuts whilst two more ppeared from the bench. Former Fylde player Nick Cassidymade a guest appearance to provide some additonal experience in the front row. In the backs, with the exception of the highly experienced back David Wiseman, the rest of the starting line-up had an average age of 19 years.
Despite the advantage of the strong breeze for the first period it was the home side that had much of the territorial advantage with Fylde's visits to their opponents 22 few and far between. The visitors also struggled at the breakdown with the referee often penalising them for a variety of infringements when trying to contest the ball. They did however take the lead when lock Roger Banks peeled away from the back of a maul to stroll over the line. Ryan Riches missed with a difficult conversion attempt.
The lead was shortlived as 'Dale struck back with two tries from Fylde errors. First Matt O'Connor's blind pass from teh base of a scrum was poached by the Rochdale scrum half with the ball then spread to the winger who scored in the corner. Next the referee adjudged the ball to have come out of a ruck just 10 metres from the Fylde try line and a 'Dale player picked up the loose ball to score.
Rochdale looked to move the ball wide to their wingers at every opportunity but they got little change out of Tommy Banks and Matt Gargett. The score at half-time was 12-5.
After the break Fylde began to take advantage of the tiring home side to break the defensive line on numerous occasions with fly half Dan Bibbyto the fore. Winger Tommy Banks took advantage of one such break to score in the corner a feat he repeated shortly after to give the visitors a lead of 15-12. The lead was shortlived however as straight from the kick-off the Rochdale forwards somehow managed to turnover the ball and catch the Fylde defence napping to score in the corner. The resulting conversion gave the home side a 19-15 lead approaching the final 10 minutes.
Fylde pressed hard on the Rochdale line and were rewarded first with a try by young centre Sam Russell who dived over from a ruck and then replacement scrum-half Craig Aikman who was on hand to finish off another break. Mike Waywell added a conversion and Fylde led 27-19.
There was almost one last twist to the game, with just two minutes 'Dale were awarded a penalty on the Fylde 10 metre line. The home fly-half struck the ball well but the kick drifted two yards wide of the right hand post or so the whole of the ground bar the match official thought, who inexplicably signaled that the ball had gone between the uprights. With time now up Dan Bibby kicked the kick-off straight out and the referee signalled the end of the game.
Fylde move on to the semi-final of the competition to be played early in 2010.
Fylde: Riches (Waywell), Gargett, Russell, Wiseman (Evans), Banks, Bibby, Smith (Aikman), O'Connor, Stephenson, Wilks, Atkinson (Hodgkins), Banks, Cassidy (Brockbank), Roddam (Stover), Lewis (Madden)