FLEETWOOD EDGE PAST TARLETON IN CUP
The opening game of the season at Melbourne Avenue was tinged with sadness as we learned of the death of club member and stalwart Ann Lilleyman. Ann had fulfilled a number of roles on the Committee and had also worked behind bar. She will be greatly missed by her many friends at the club but most of all by her husband Jim, who like Ann has been a tireless worker for the club and is also an Honorary Life Member. There was a minute’s silence before the game and the club flag was flown at half-mast.
The game kicked off in warm and sunny conditions with both teams trying to play expansive rugby. Fleetwood struggled in the scrums and lineouts as they were without a specialist hooker. Asa Watson, making a welcome return to the club after a long layoff through injury, stuck manfully to the task but was heard to say at the end of the game..”that’s the last time I am playing ******* Hooker”. It’s a good job Devon Brown is back next week! Despite not winning much first phase ball, Fleetwood were terrier like in defence and often turned over Tarleton ball. After 10 minutes Fleetwood won quick ball from a scrum on half way. Fast hand got the ball to Kris Phillips in space and the winger did the rest, dotting down on the right hand side. An excellent conversion by Zac Coultas gave Fleetwood a 7-0 lead.
The rest of the half followed a similar pattern. Tarleton winning the lions share of possession but Fleetwood’s defence keeping them in the game. Despite the endeavours of both teams the scored remained 7-0 at half time.
The second half saw Fleetwood change their tactics. They upped the tempo when the could with a series of quick tap penalties and clever box kicks to turn the Tarleton defence. However from a 5 metre scrum Tarleton crossed the whitewash in the left hand corner for a well worked try. The conversion was missed so Fleetwood held a slender lead 7-5 with 20 minutes to go. Tarleton then upped their game in an effort to win the game. Resolute defence from Fleetwood kept them out until the 38th minute of the half when they conceded a kickable penalty. Fortunately the kick was just wide. Fleetwood’s defence held out and were very relieved to kick the ball out to win a very tight game.
Referee Rob Sheard handled the game well. We wish Tarleton well in their endeavours in their league this season.
Picking a Fleetwood Man of the Match was difficult. Danny Tomlinson and George Orry both had good games in the back row, Mike Kelly again showed his versatility at 10 and Kris Phillips took his try well. The accolade goes to Zac Coultas for his all round game, kicking for position and the conversion that ultimately won the game.
Fleetwood start their league campaign away at Widnes on Sept.14th. Next week the 2’s are at local rivals Thornton Cleveleys while the 3rds are at home to Aldwinians.
REPORT BY STEVE DOHERTY