2 weeks ago
By David Woodcock
Lacklustre Fleet lose their way!
Hawcoat Park 29-20 Fleetwood
After the recent demolition against Littleborough the travelling Green and Gold personnel expected a victory against rock bottom Hawcoat Park even though a number of key players were absent.
With the game barely two minutes old Fleet could not have wished for a better start, the returning birthday boy Dale Thompson making hard yards with ball in hand. The pressure told as second row James Lilley picked up at the ruck and motored over the whitewash to score, conversion missed 0-5 to the good. Perhaps the away side would have a field day? At this stage the forwards appeared lively, number 8 Scott Richardson increased the lead with a well struck penalty making it 0-8. By now Park had woken up but had not troubled Fleet so far. The most audacious moment of the half came when Canadian scrum half Gavin Rowell attempted a speculative drop-goal from about half way which just sailed wide of the sticks. The expectation from most spectators now was for the Green and Golds to turn up the heat on their opponents. In fact it was Park who responded more positively, from a lineout in the visitors 22 they eventually crafted a try. Any attempts to tackle the home players was pretty woeful, conversion missed making it 5-8. With the bit between their teeth and Fleet playing devoid of intensity, the Hawcoat boys seized their opportunity to strike with their centre crashing over under the sticks, extras added 12-8. Despite having plenty of possession Fleet were making costly mistakes, the ball was being lost at the breakdown as players struggled to make much of an impact. It came as no surprise when Park again drove forward and scored a try making it 17-8. This briefly spurred Fleet to respond, Richardson sent his team deep into opposition territory from a penalty. The referee then assisted as he sent a Park player to the sin bin for not releasing in the tackle. Probably the best worked move of the day came when fly half Paul Bamber sent inside centre Karl Bowling a beautifully weighted pass, the recipient skipped past two defenders to touchdown, conversion added making it 17-15. Richardson then had a long range penalty effort go wide as the half drew to a close. With strong words of encouragement from Head Coach Steve Woodburn Fleet started the second half no better, conceding a penalty within the first minute. Like two heavyweight boxers both teams were slugging it out, neither side could really assert themselves. To make matters worse the visitors were then reduced to 14 men as second row Andy Holme was sent packing for a high tackle. Briefly, Fleet did show a bit of endeavour driving forward, props Peter Benny and Scott Dobbie were making good carries as were twins Jordan and Jack Brocklehurst- all too often momentum was lost as mistakes were being made. Yet another player went to the bin, this time it was a Park player. Minutes later after another drive into the opposition 22 it was centre Bowling who managed to muscle over or a try in the corner, conversion missed making it 17-20. Unable to hold the upper hand Park were back in the lead within 2 minutes when an un-opposed break down the blind side lead to a try but no conversion, 22-20. Despite being behind Fleet were given further opportunity to get back on terms, sadly chances were squandered. With time running out it was Park who had something to cheer about when they scored another try with a conversion added making it 29-20.
Having recently beaten top side Aspatria this was a game that Fleet need to put behind them as they are capable of much better performances than this. That said, certain individuals showed up fairly well, namely winger Joe Kirton who tackled well, and Karl Bowling who was prominent in attack. Just shading it for his carrying, tackling and overall work rate was Scott Richardson who was named by coach and manager as the man of the match.
Hopefully with two tough training sessions this week Fleet will show their true colours next week when they welcome Aldwinians to Melbourne Avenue.
Updated 15:05 - 14 Jan 2018 by Vaughan Evans