A REMARKABLE National I opener that, played at breakneck speed
between two promoted clubs, matched nearby Blackpool's famed
rollercoaster for ups and downs.
All that was missing, from the travelling Jersey fans' point of
view, was the victory, with hosts Fylde hanging on desperately at
the end to record a bonus-point 29-27 win. Both sides scored four
tries, with Jersey taking two bonus points home as a consolation,
though it could easily have been five.
It was Jersey's first defeat since November last year and the
first under the captaincy of Paul Rogers. A bitter pill to swallow,
but Jersey know they have only themselves to blame for a poor
first-half showing that led to a 16-point deficit.
Yet Jersey, having their first taste of level three rugby, had
drawn first blood after just four minutes, with the pack producing
turnover ball on the far left, close to the Fylde line. With
livewire scrum-half Nicky Griffiths sent the ball speedily along
the line to fly-half Ross Broadfoot who crossed over for a debut
try well inside on the right. The conversion from Michael Le
Bourgeois was surprisingly missed, the kick for the extra two
points just curling around a post.
But after a lively start from both sides, Jersey appeared set to
take control. Not so. Fylde, returning to the division after an
absence of eight years, made full use of Jersey errors to put their
visitors under pressure with a strong and speedy back division.
Fylde were soon 7-5 in front after the hugely impressive centre
Mike Waywell blasted a hole in the Jersey defence on the right
after Kenyon kicked a penalty to touch, a subsequent lineout
success and powerful maul by the forwards. Kenyon, who hit a purple
patch in the opening half, added the conversion.
Jersey regained the lead with a 28m Le Bourgeois penalty
after the lively Sanders was held after a tackle on the right, but
Kenyon edged back the advantage with a comfortable penalty, central
on the 22m line. Now 10-8 to Fylde it was a lead they were not to
Impressive Nick Royle, an England Sevens player, won a race on
the left to touchdown from a kickthrough on the half-hour and
Kenyon's conversion made it 17-8. Jersey were rocking and Fylde's
tails were up. Kenyon applied more pain when he put Royle through
for his second, the full-back crashing through two tackles just by
the posts. The conversion gobbled up, Jersey trailed 24-8 - and it
could have been more before the whistle went for the break.
However, plain talking at the interval led to far more familiar
Jersey performance on the restart. The forwards made constant
progress down the right, although winning penalties and line-outs
still looked like coming to naught due to handling errors, before
good work from Ben Evans helped set up Nick Trower to burst clear
and score. Le Bourgeois converted and it was game on at 24-15.
But Jersey again paid dearly for losing possession in contact
and scrum-half Steve Depledge won a race to claim the fourth try
for Fylde in the right-hand corner, following Royle's kick
But Jersey responded immediately with a brilliant solo effort
from Sanders on the right. The conversion was missed, but there was
only nine points in it now.
Seven minutes later and a strong Jersey maul on the left
resulted in debut boy Guy Thompson touching down to make the
deficit a mere four points, further reduced to two by Le
Fylde were still dangerous, but the momentum was with Jersey and
a penalty award wide on the right gave Le Bourgeois a difficult
chance to regain the lead, but his kick went agonisly wide of the
The home side were now desperate, but kept cool heads to deny
Jersey possession in the closing minutes and claim the win.
Four tries away from home and most players, coaches and fans
would be expecting a victory, but this was a special match played
at an extraordinary intensity throughout. If this is a taste
of what is to come, rugby fans in the Island are in for a treat
18 May 2023
DoR pays tribute to leaving players after title-winning season