D' Kingswinford 28 Fylde 17

The resignation of Gordon Bannatyne as Dudley's director of rugby and of Dale Smallman as head coach, effective from the final whistle on Saturday, had nothing to do with sinking ships.

It had everything to do with the altruistic notion that the club's cause would be better served by a fresh regime.

Perhaps the pair can be persuaded to change their minds. For late in the day, they have come upon a winning way.

Oddly, Dudley were relegated from the Third Division while in promotion form. This was their third victory in a row. Whoever heard of form teams going down?

That form, alas, has been too long in the finding. There have been too many injuries, too many accidents and too many instances of matches that should have been won going the other way.

An eventful season, though, at the end of which we find a club in good heart who will show decent foundations to the player/coach they are now hoping to sign.

This was a bigger win than the scoreline suggests. Better ball play and tighter alignment in the backs would have seen it all sewn up by halftime although, as it was, 20-nil wasn't bad going.

Fylde, who have finished fourth in the table, didn't seem to have much of a game plan but they did have some pretty good players, certainly in their back five, and an important factor in Dudley's victory had to be their tackling. And their line-out.

Even at that, Dudley failed to capture a bonus point, that rarity with which they are so unacquainted. And it should have been a sinecure.

With seven minutes to go, plus the six added on, Fylde lost their best player, Mike Vermaak who, having just been recalled to South Africa to play in the Currie Cup, gave the impression that he wasn't too concerned for his future in the English game.

Let's say he put himself about a bit. Thus when Mr Davies, the referee, asked him to leave the pitch for a while Dudley, 28-5 up, were on for a storming finish.

It was Fylde who did the storming. They scored 12 points in the last eight minutes and Dudley were still on the back foot when this game and their season ended.

Two penalty goals in the first 18 minutes, from slap in front of the posts by Andrew McLellan, gave Dudley the basis for their victory. But building on it proved to be difficult because they kept dropping the ball at important moments.

Their first try was a beauty, though. They brought wing Ian Gowland into the centre at pace and defences rarely react to surprises like this, executed as this was. McLellan converted and then, following a chip-through, got the bounce and scored the second try after 37 minutes. He converted it, too.

Meaningful opinions must have been expressed during the interval for Fylde came out with some urgency and scored a try within five minutes when Richard Kenyon and Dave Wiseman sent in Matt Hughes.

At 15 points up, Dudley were not in the comfort zone but they showed character with a try four minutes after Hughes's when a thrust drove Pete Knight over.

McLellan added a penalty, then Vermaak got his yellow card and Dudley were on a stroll. But not according to Fylde who dominated nearly all the last quarter.

Kenyon found a neat, short pass to send in Dave Hanley and on the stroke of 80 minutes McLellan, under stiff pressure, essayed a rather desperate fly-hack on halfway, saw the ball ricochet off a body into Hanley's arms and the centre strode gratefully forward before giving the scoring pass to his flanker, Quentin King.

Dudley Kingswinford: A McLellan; S Smart (rep R Jones, h/t), W Port, M Wagstaff, I Gowland; E Smith, A Mitchell; W Millard, I Coles (S Such, 60), H Kingi (M Ferguson, 47), B Connett, O Shakespeare, I Langford, P Knight, A Cullen (N Shillingford, 47).

Fylde: P Green; M Hughes, D Hanley, P Reeves, D Wiseman; R Kenyon, J Green; S Ellis (A Holmes, 69), A Moffat (M Filipo, 66), E Scott, G Johnsson, M Lloyd, C McIntyre (R Gold, 55), M Vermaak, Q King.

Referee: Mr R Davies.