Worthing Raiders 25, Fylde 17
Mark Nelson’s love affair with Fylde goes on despite the head coach admitting some weeks it’s tough to accept defeat – never more so than on Saturday.
Worthing, the only visiting side to win at the Woodlands this season (and by the unlikely score of 50-45), duly completed the double over Nelson’s side to halt a five-match winning run which had seen Fylde establish themselves in the top four of National League One.
But Saturday’s setback left Nelson downbeat, even though his side remain fourth and could console themselves in the fact that Rosslyn Park and Esher, who are second and third respectively, lost too.
Nelson said: “Rugby is like a woman you love – one week it’s the first thing in your thoughts and the next it can be a pain.
“Worthing did their homework and I would not begrudge them the win but I honestly thought we did enough to see it through.
“It’s very frustrating but you have to accept that. We look at other results in the league and you think if they could have gone our way we may have been challenging at the end of the season.
“But this week’s results played into Doncaster Knights’ hands (the only winners among the sides who started the day in the top five) and whoever catches them now will do fantastically well.
“I am more disappointed that the season almost seemed to be decided this week. With ourselves, Esher, Rosslyn Park and Coventry putting a bit of pressure it’s made things interesting.
“I had high hopes to come down here and win and keep making it tricky for Doncaster, but that’s been relieved in one fell swoop.”
The visitors got off to the perfect start on 11 minutes, when Daniel Birchall crossed but they were quickly pegged back through Finlay Coxon-Smith’s try for the Raiders.
Wing Coxon-Smith went on to notch a hat-trick of tries, his third proving decisive after Charles Hough and Gareth Gore had put Fylde 17-13 in front with just 18 minutes to play.
Ben Loosmore added gloss to the score late on.
Scott Barrow made his long-awaited return after a knee injury at half-back in place of the unavailable Chris Johnson.
Fellow scorer Gore returned after a broken nose to lock the scrum with Paul Arnold, with Joe Robinson reverting to the back row in place of Steve McGinnis.
Steve Briers’ place at centre was taken by Hough, while hooker Ollie Trippier replaces Mark Rylance on the bench.
With top of the table Doncaster next up for Fylde, Nelson has vowed to bounce back.
“We will be up for the game and I’m very pleased with the way the team committed themselves against Worthing,” he added. “The lads have earned a right to give it a real go against potential champions and we’ll make sure Doncaster have to do it the hard way.
“We were never more than three points away from them and when they scored the try to get into their winning position, we’d just been on an attack that we’d have scored from nine times out of ten.”
Nelson also bemoaned the number of injuries suffered by his side, particularly in the forwards, as the Fylde coach was forced to shuffle his pack.
“We had four significant injuries in the forwards, with players going off, but we were still in the game at the end.
“But it took its toll and we finished the game with one of our young centres in the back row.”
Fylde: Viney, Spragg, Hough, Briers, Brennand, Barrow, De la Harpe, Birchall, Burtonwood, Lewis, Arnold, Gore, Robinson, Vernon, Stewart;
Replacements: Griffiths, Tripier, Maher, Wallwork, Lawton.
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