Saturday 19 August - Wharfedale v Hull Ionians (A) KO 3.00pm ----

Wharfedale 33 Loughborough Students 22

November 22nd, 2013
There was tangible relief at Wharfeside Avenue when referee Wayne Falla’s whistle signalled the end of this entertaining and hard-fought match. The Greens had a desperately needed victory after a run of seven successive league defeats. It was hardly a classic. Wharfedale have played much better in defeat of late (Sedgley Tigers the previous week perhaps an exception!) but, as Head Coach Tom McGee put it in a succinct post-match comment: “Today was all about a victory.” He expressed satisfaction with the spirit and endeavour shown by his team, while recognising that error reduction needed to be targeted in advance of upcoming vitally important fixtures. Maybe the Greens were fortunate in that they faced a much-changed Loughborough team, who had no fewer than six players on duty the previous day in the England Students victory over France Universities. But, such is the wealth of playing resource the University has at its disposal, it was difficult to spot where any significant weaknesses might have resulted. Hoping for a strong start, Wharfedale began in determined fashion, flanker Dan Solomi charging down Loughborough’s first clearance attempt, though unable to profit further. Then, in the Student’s first sally into Green territory, stand-off Stuart Hall found the time and space to send a sweetly placed lob over the try line. Full-back Sam Hughes won the race for the touch-down, Hall converted and, yet again, the Dalesmen were facing up to an early deficit. The response was immediate. Stand-off Tom Barrett, who was to have an influential game, going on to contribute 18 points with his boot, confidently slotted a 40-metre penalty to partially settle nerves – both on and off the field. Fortune then smiled on the home side, when Hall’s 11th-minute penalty struck a post and rebounded clear. Two minutes later Solomi was jumping off the side of a ruck midway in the Loughborough half and haring for the posts, the hoodwinked defenders helpless to intercept. Barrett added the simple conversion, and the Greens had the lead at 10-7. In a rare error in a commanding performance, Barrett over-hit a penalty from hand, the ball going dead, but home pressure continued, and the stand-off soon had a straightforward shot at goal for 13-7, the penalty coinciding with Hughes being yellow carded. Barrett then redeemed himself with another long penalty for touch – this time setting up a line-out for the Dalesmen eight metres from the Loughborough line. The forwards took maximum advantage, with clean take and controlled maul, skipper Steve Graham taking the honour on behalf of the pack. The conversion made it 20-7, and the Greens seemed in command. But Loughborough were not to be pushed aside so easily. A Hall penalty had narrowed the gap by half-time, and a determined surge on the restart brought a second try for Hughes (42). The Greens now knuckled down to their task, and dominated possession for a lengthy period, Barrett landing 2 further penalties (45, 58), and adding the conversion to a crashing score by flanker Alastair Allen (52). The cheer marking Allen’s try was hardly louder than that a minute earlier, greeting the arrival on the pitch as replacement prop of the evergreen Neil Dickinson for his first league appearance of the season. At 33-15 at the close of the 3rd quarter, the game was surely won, and a 4th try to secure a bonus point seemed a formality. However, the Students have a reputation for finishing games strongly and they had the better of the exchanges in the closing stages. Late pressure caused consternation in the Greens’ ranks, particularly when home winger Neil Donkin was absent on a yellow card. The visitors might well have scored earlier than the 76th minute, when No 8 Sam Heygate finished off a slick move to equalise the try count, Hall converting. Wharfedale saw out the final minutes without further alarms, but also without creating a chance to add bonus gloss to the victory. That defect took on added importance with the news that Macclesfield had earned maximum points in a close win at Cambridge, and are now just 9 points adrift of Wharfedale, with 9 matches remaining. April 13th, when Macclesfield are the visitors at the Avenue, could well turn out be a critically important day – for both clubs. Wharfedale: A Whaites; J Donkin, L Gray, J Tincknell, S Horsfall; T Barrett, P Woodhead (W Bell 68); M Tampin, S Graham (I Larkin 53), A Howard (N Dickinson 51), R Brown (J Mason 77), R Rhodes, A Allen, D Solomi, A Myers (T Wareing 74). Loughborough Students: S Hughes; C Kinloch, C Morrison, F Pierrepoint (M Oliver 76), C Dowsett (C Wilson 47); S Hall, T Bliss; J Collister (H Elrington 59), C Pike (T Rudland 76), M Shields, S Waterworth (G Messum 53), L Griffiths, J Parker, J Freeman, S Heygate.  
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