Rugby Union: Best of friends

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Fylde. . . . . . . . .11

Preston Grasshoppers. .7

PLAYING this match meant almost as much to Fylde as winning it. Roy Woolley, their club chairman, summed it up by anxiously testing the softness of his garden lawn in pyjamas and slippers at 2am on Boxing Day.

The annual game regularly brings Fylde's biggest single payday, eclipsing even the takings for league matches. Bar and gate receipts produced more than pounds 5,000, providing a grin and tonic for Woolley in recessionary times.

Non-league matches are sadly maligned for a lack of meaning, but Fourth Division Grasshoppers bridged two leagues to give Fylde a meaningful and stringent challenge. The game bred confidence for Grasshoppers' promotion challenge and Fylde's somewhat unequal relegation battle.

Fylde began with a penalty by Michael Jackson, who inspired a try for Martin Greatorex, a highly promising No 8 with the recent distinction of appearing for Wales against France in a student rugby league international.

A penalty try rewarded Grasshoppers' perseverance and Billy Thompson's conversion reduced the deficit to a point. But Jackson's second penalty, interspersed with several misses, was the only score in a fast and furious second half.

Fylde: Try Greatorex; Penalties Jackson 2. Preston Grasshoppers: Try penalty try; Conversion Thompson.

Fylde: M Jackson (capt); P Seed, S Connell (D Collinge, 72), J Atkins, G Campbell; S Gough, I Barclay; R Akrill, A Moffat, M Heys, T Taylor, P O'Neill, T Weighman, M Greatorex, I Ashton.

Preston Grasshoppers: E Dean; J Hindle, J Moore, J Chesworth, A Taylorson; W Thompson, J Bleasdale; J Nixon, P Carter, R Crayston, P Crayston (capt), N Battersby, J Kay, M Sword, D Grant.

Referee: S Kent (Liverpool).