Fylde play their own brand of rugby, unique in many ways to the league, one that is immensely enjoyable to watch. Their free-flowing, almost cavalier approach at times, is more reminiscent of a by-gone era, a time before national leagues when teams set out to entertain rather than win at all costs. Or so it seems to me. I can’t recall a dull game between the two teams.
Take last season for instance. The first encounter was at the Butts and was a veritable rugby-fest, Cov winning 61-32, scoring 9 ties in the process. It was during Coventry’s purple patch the 10th game of the 18 game unbeaten run. We looked a decent side then, third in the league and only 7 points behind Ealing Trailfinders. Few teams could have lived with us on that day.
What I remember most about the game is watching in awe as the two sides traded tries in the first half with the score ending up something like 33-28 at the interval. I don’t think Fylde kicked the ball out of hand once, or at least so it seems now, and as a result the game was played at immense pace. Two yellow cards didn’t help their cause and Cov had a spell of four more unanswered tries after the break to give the score a very one-sided feel. It was breath-taking…full of champagnes moments.
Aa a Fylde fan, I can only imagine I would have left Coventry immensely proud at the way my team played, but extremely frustrated that they didn’t seem to be able to play any other way to stem the Coventry backs who were rampant in the second half, Rob Knox in particular.
The return fixture was equally enthralling, with Fylde getting the own back with a thumping 44-28 win, with Ollie Brennan scoring an unanswered hat-trick of tries in the second half. 166 points in 160 minutes of rugby, give or take. Incredible.
Fylde record all their league games – and as a reminder of just how dangerous they can be, here are they tries they scored in that return fixture:
Although Fylde hasn’t had the best of starts this season, winning only two of their six games so far, they had an excellent win against Rosslyn Park on Saturday, 36-20 (Match report from Fylde website)… and a big ‘thank you’ from all us Coventry fans. Give them space and they will break open any defence in the league. Hull Ionians unfairly incurred the wrath of one or two travelling Fylde fans the week before by using the rolling-maul to such effect that they scored 5 tries, stifling any fluidity in the game and therefore preventing Fylde from playing their natural game by cutting off the supply of ball to Fylde’s pacey back division. I’m not sure why that should upset anyone; it’s what you do against Fylde. And to be honest, if we do the same I wouldn’t be complaining, even though it doesn’t make for the most entertaining of spectacles. Having sung the praises of Fylde’s attacking verve, in the end a win is a win, however achieved. Not something for the purists I accept, but first and foremost it’s about Coventry winning. If they can win in style, so much the better. I’d rather the end-to-end play of last season, but not at the expense of a win. Double standards perhaps, but that’s league rugby for you. I’m happy to watch Fylde throw the ball around as they did against Cov last season, but I’m glad Coventry seem to have more options with the ball.
Winning the battle of the forwards would seem to be essential on Saturday. Retain the ball and don’t kick too often for possession as Fylde’s backs are more than capable of returning the ball, with interest. Use the phases, suck in their talented back row and then throw the ball out wide to Messrs Tincknell, Knox (presuming he’s fit), Hamilton, Weightman and Lespierre and watch the gaps appear. Rugby is such a simple game at times – on paper, anyway. Maybe Fylde are wise to the way teams approach them now and have changed there game plan accordingly. We’ll see on Saturday.
Last week the coaches worked on a successful gameplan to stifle the Hull pack, this week they’ll want to ensure Fylde aren’t given the chance to run the ball back at us, something they’ll be happy to do all afternoon.
Over 1700 watched the corresponding fixture last year. Another crowd of that size would certainly help lift the players to the level required to beat a Fylde side buoyed by last week’s victory against Rosslyn Park.
And remember, it’s a 2.15 pm start.