Fylde 14 – 15 Lymm
1st Team Match Report | Saturday September 30 2023
Shard’s ‘Jonny Wilkinson’ moment wins game
Lymm, third from the bottom of National League 2 North following one win and three losses, ran out, on a wet blustery day, to face third placed Fylde in what always promised to be a close encounter. The hosts, like Lymm, had also lost narrowly to Wharfedale the previous week but this was the first time these two sides had met since the 1970’s.
As forecast, the heavens opened at 3pm and the overcast conditions were not to change all afternoon. The observation was made that the team which played to the conditions would probably come out victorious and so it proved, but goodness, what a nail biter.
Lymm’s early intentions were clear as Cal Morris, at scrum half, kicked twice into touch into the Fylde 22 to establish an attacking platform. Shard then made a telling 50 – 22 kick into a similar position to win the throw-in. A high tackle, as Lymm pressed, gave Shard an early penalty opportunity which he took with aplomb. 0-3 after 5mins.
Lymm were showing great confidence as the half backs played with some dominance in the first quarter. Another high tackle facilitated a kick into touch in the 22m for Lymm until Shard took advantage of another penalty under the posts during this sustained period of attack. 0- 6 after 15mins.
Lymm now went for a try and looked threatening with ball-in-hand but thwarted themselves by crossing near the hosts’ try line. It continued to pour down!
The line out was fast becoming a lottery for both sides but what ball was won by Fylde they consistently tried to run it. In fact Fylde rarely kicked it all afternoon in the run-of-play, only following a penalty to clear their lines, which seemed an odd strategy in such appalling conditions.
However, sustained driving pressure from the forwards resulted in a try for Ben Gregory the Fylde hooker which gave them the lead after the successful conversion, on 35mins. 7 – 6 and as the half came to a close.
Half Time: Fylde 7 – 6 Lymm
With a slight breeze at their backs, Lymm won an early penalty, for Shard to regain the lead after 43 mins. 7 – 9.
Fylde then upped their game with some fluent rugby despite the conditions, but dropped the ball over the line. In return Lymm counter-attacked but also dropped the ball near the try line. Two further chances went begging for Lymm but the signs were positive.
The ball was clearly resembling a block of Imperial Leather and the Fylde back three had a torrid time catching clearing kicks all afternoon resulting in knock-ons and attacking scrums to Lymm.
Another penalty to Lymm extended their lead as Shard did the business from 30m out. 7 – 12 with 24 mins still to play.
With just a try separating the two sides, a threatening attacking line out in Lymm’s 22 was stolen by the industrious 2nd row No. 5 Rhys Lilley and a sigh of relief from the travelling support was audible. Once again Shard pinned Fylde back into their own 22 with a display of accurate kicking.
Fylde however, were not going away and a series of attacking line-outs allowed them to set up a number of rolling mauls near the Lymm line. Each time they were repelled until the ref decided he’d seen enough and Lymm’s open side Sean Callendar was given a yellow card.
Despite being a man down and certainly now under the cosh, Lymm’s defence held firm. Fylde lost another of their own line-outs in a very promising position but replacement prop James Sherlock was then also yellow carded as the clock ticked down.
Now down to 13 men the portents were not looking good. Fylde continued to drop chances until their cross field kick was taken by the right winger who jinked inside the cover only to lose the ball forward in the last, despairing tackle, as he approached the line.
As the game entered the last few minutes Fylde got the break that had been threatening, when, in a sweeping attack, through several pairs of hands, they surged up the left wing but the last pass was knocked forward by wing Paddy Jennings who got a yellow card. The ref took the decision this prevented a certain try and awarded the 7 point penalty try to Fylde, and the lead. 14 – 12 on 78 mins.
Despite having only 13 men on the pitch, Lymm, feeling somewhat incensed it appeared, were not going to be left wondering. At the re-start, with minutes left on the clock, Fylde’s winger dropped yet another high ball and it stuttered into touch on the Fylde 22.
The ensuing line out saw a determined series of charges at the Fylde line and the ball consistently came back. It was after a number of surges that Shard sat in the pocket, in front of the sticks, and called for the ball. In what can only be described as his Jonny Wilkinson moment, Shard successfully slotted a very fashionable drop goal to win the game 14 – 15 in the dying seconds, to huge roars from the players and travelling support.
Full Time: Fylde 14 – 15 Lymm
Kicking accuracy, playing the conditions and huge levels of spirit saw Lymm home. DoR Adam Fletcher summed it up: ‘We started the game really well and took great confidence from this. I thought our half backs, Cal Morris and Tom Shard, put us in some great positions and forced Fylde into making multiple errors.
We gave away far too many penalties especially in the second half. It very nearly cost us the match. We need to learn quickly how to work with the assistant referees.
‘The defensive effort was huge, led by the back row. I’m sure Tom Bray, our defence coach will be happy with the line speed and physicality.
‘To win the match in the manner we did was amazing. We only had 13 men on the pitch so to get ourselves into position for Shardy to execute the drop goal was immense.
‘Onwards to next week and back to Crouchley Lane to play Sheffield who are just one position above us at 8th,’ he concluded.
Team: 1 Gav Woods (112) 2 James Pitcher* (47) 3 Matty Hand* (86) 4 James Yates* (c) (104) 5 Rhys Lilly* (36) 6 Sean Callender (5) 7 Harry Martin (35) 8 Josh Hadland* (25) 9 Cal Morris (18) 10 Tom Shard* (115) 11 Paddy Jennings* (31) 12 James Kimber* (90) 13 Ste Pilkington* (47) 14 Andy Williams (4) 15 Jack Reynolds (5).
Replacements: 16 Joe Higgins (8) 17 James Sherlock* (12) 18 Alex Stewart* (6) 19 Jack Stride (2) 20 Rory Ridell* (14).
* Denotes players from Lymm’s M&J and Colts ranks
Numbers in brackets denote first team caps
Match Report: Simon Plumb
Lymm 2nd Team succumbed to a 50 – 6 defeat away to Rossendale.
Lymm Eagles game with Macclesfield was postponed until 25th November, but as this was a league and cup double the Eagles have been awarded the cup game and will now face Ruskin Park on the 21st October in the next round.
Rhys Lilley winning the line out
Andy Williams breaking down his wing