Cambridge 12 Wharfedale 28

November 22nd, 2013
As the large electronic clock approached 80 minutes, Wharfedale led by 18-12 with only two tries in the bank. And the entire crowd knew that Macclesfield had a good lead over Fylde and needed only one more try for what would be a five-point victory for the Cheshire side, meaning that Wharfedale would have to open the clubhouse next Saturday to get the necessary survival points against Coventry. But whereas Wharfedale on several occasions this season had squandered winning positions in the dying seconds, on this occasion it was the other way round. With one minute left on the clock, Ian Larkin finished off a driving maul to put the match safe at 23-12, and all the attention of the large Green travelling contingent was now focused on Macclesfield, whose lead had been reduced to 29-28. But still Wharfedale’s match went on. Both sides won and then lost possession, and an excellent chance for the Greens was spurned when an average attempt to field an average pass failed with the line at the player’s mercy. And still the match went on: Wharfedale found themselves close to the home line, and with one final effort, with the clock now showing 85 minutes, Aaron Myers forced himself over the line for his side’s fourth try. The news that Macclesfield’s win over Fylde was only a four-pointer meant that Wharfedale’s five points had secured an eighteenth successive season in National One. The match had begun in torrential driving rain, reflecting the gloom of the opening spell. Forward domination, and repeated driven lineouts on the home line produced no result, and eventually the decision to ask Tom Barrett to convert a most unlikely penalty from very long distance reinforced the feeling that desperation was taking over. That attempt failed, but a later, easier effort at least gave the visitors the consolation of the narrowest of half-time leads at 3-0. Whatever was said in the visitors’ changing room at half-time seemed to work, and calmer counsel prevailed. Within two minutes Joe Donkin had brilliantly finished off a decent backs move as he was smashed into touch in the corner. Equal credit goes to the match officials for their alertness, because this is an episode which would certainly have gone to a TV official. A second Tom Barrett penalty stretched the lead to 11-0 before the move of the match produced a try for winger Simon Horsfall in his 200th league appearance for the club. Inevitably it was full-back Adam Whaites who made the break, sending winger Lloyd Davies clear before taking the return pass and switching play left along the line to Horsfall to make the overlap. It didn’t seem to matter in the context of the season that the relegated Cambridge now managed two tries of their own, because the result of the match was never in doubt – all that mattered was the tries at the other end. Wharfedale coach Tom McGee, who now steps down as Head Coach to take a reduced rôle with the forwards, was fulsome in his praise. “I am so proud of the character of the players and the way they have fought for survival. I am delighted for the club and want to thank everyone, and particularly Clarty, for the support I have received in my three years in charge.” Wharfedale: Adam Whaites; Lloyd Davies, Joe Donkin, Luke Gray, Simon Horsfall; Tom Barrett (Philip Woodhead 60), James Gough; Chris Steel (capt), Steve Graham (Ian Larkin 67), Mark Tampin, Richard Brown, Richard Rhodes, Jim Mason, Tom Wareing, Aaron Myers. Replacements not used: Neil Dickinson, Rob Burnett, Josh Prell. Tries: Donkin, Horsfall, Larkin, Myers. Conversion: Barrett Penalties: Barrett (2)
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