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Wharfedale 15 Tynedale 34

November 22nd, 2013

This was a performance that the Wharfedale team will be anxious to forget. It is certain, however, that coach Tom McGee will not permit it that relief.

Unrecognisable from the side that bumped Rosslyn Park off the top of the league in spectacular style in their previous home match, the Greens started badly – rocked by the intensity of Tynedale’s opening surge – and then struggled to regain any composure for the duration of the first half. The second half – following a few no doubt pointed remarks from Mr McGee – did produce a measure of improvement. But when the game restarted the shell-shocked Dalesmen were facing a staggering 27-0 deficit, and damage limitation was the best that could be hoped for. Wharfedale were on the back foot from the first whistle. The visitors camped in home territory, and only rarely left it before the interval. Tyne totally dominated the half, and reached the break with a 4-try bonus point already secured, and the outcome of the game effectively decided. Greens supporters watched in disbelief as Tyne simply ripped the Wharfedale defence apart. The home line had already been close to being breached twice before stand-off Matthew Outson opened his side’s account with a 9th-minute penalty for off-side. Tries were inevitable, such was the pressure on the Greens’ defence. Winger Andrew Moralee was first over, in the right corner (14 mins), swiftly followed by full-back Chris Harris (17), who crashed through two despairing tackles to touch-down under the posts, leaving the straightforward conversion for Outson. A charged-down clearance attempt almost led to try No 3, a foot just in touch denying Moralee his second score, but with little going right for the Greens (a muffed line-out negated their sole meaningful foray towards the Tyne goal-line) the visitors continued to torture the home defence. By the interval outstanding winger Hamish Smales had twice forced his way over the line near the left flag (33, 39). Significantly, his second was set up by a penalty kick to touch, eschewing a straightforward pot at the posts. Enterprise was rewarded with the full 7 points, Outson converting from the touch-line. The game resumed with the Dalesmen showing, at least, a grim determination. However, the first few minutes gave little promise of better things. An attempted cross-kick for winger Nick Taylor went astray; Lloyd Davies (so influential with his kicking against Rosslyn Park) missed a central 30-metre penalty chance, and was then unfortunate to see his ambitious long punt for touch overrun the dead ball line. Then, 10 minutes into the half, the home faithful at last had something to cheer. A penalty to touch, a twice-taken line-out, and hooker Steve Graham emerged with the ball after the pack powered over the line. The conversion was missed, but now there was some fire – albeit often glaringly uncoordinated – in the Green ranks. An attacking chance was lost by ‘not straight’ at another close line-out and stubborn defence was needed to repel an intense Tyne drive at the other end. Then, another penalty to touch, and this time a perfectly executed line-out set up the maul, the pack did its job, and substitute hooker Ian Larkin claimed the honour (68). The conversion attempt again failed, but at 10-27, 12 minutes plus add-on left, was an improbable come-back yet feasible? If slim hope there was, it lasted just 4 minutes – the time it took for the visitors to grab their 5th try through substitute back Alex Fieldhouse, the reliable Outson landing another touch-line clearance. The Greens could now aim for nothing more than a try bonus and, to their credit, they went for it. Centre Joe Donkin crossed with 4 minutes normal time remaining, the now irrelevant conversion missed by Luke Gray – the third kicker to chance his boot. But even that consolation (and in truth it would hardly have been deserved) was denied the unhappy Dalesmen. Tynedale, whose win would lift them to within a point of Wharfedale in the league table, were in no mood for charity. They defended resolutely against all else the Greens could offer, and ultimately the game petered out with Tyne once more forcing the pace. The reasons for this debacle will exercise all concerned but, even allowing for the fact that Tynedale played a more than competent game, explanations are difficult to come by. Could complacency have played a part? After all, Tynedale had lost every one of their away fixtures this season. But they had also demonstrated a marked propensity for try-scoring when on song, as Fylde will bear witness, having suffered an 8-try thrashing in mid-November. Last time out Tyne had come within a whisker (last-minute penalty try conceded) of beating Esher, having played most of the game with 14 men. So, unlikely to be complacency. Whatever the cause, it is to be hoped that the team have got it out of their system; otherwise, the comparative comfort of mid-table could swiftly be exchanged for yet another nervy flirtation with the relegation zone. Wharfedale: L Davies (W Bell 54); N Taylor, J Donkin, A Hodgson, S Horsfall; L Gray, J Gough; A Mason (J Altham 48), S Graham (I Larkin 52), M Tampin ( A Howard 52), R Brown, R Rhodes, J Mason (C Howick 48), D Solomi, A Allen. Referee: Marcus Caton          
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