Wharfedale 124 Manchester 5
With opponents manifestly out of their depth in National One, the result of this match, if not the margin, was virtually guaranteed before referee Matthew Daubney had blown his whistle. Wharfedale did all that could be expected in the circumstances, and put a game but outclassed Manchester to a 20-try sword.
The visitors, however, earned admiration and support from the crowd for gamely refusing to let their heads drop. Their solitary try, well-taken by scrum-half Danny Carlton, was greeted by warm applause from all parts of the ground.
Other than that all-too-brief respite, it was one-way traffic for almost the whole of the remainder of the game.
Little can be read into this result, of course, in terms of the Greens’ future fortunes. But, for now, they can hardly be less than satisfied with a 4-victory start to the campaign, and second place in the table.
As for individual performances in a game that allowed free and adventurous expression throughout the team, the massively impressive Tongan flanker, Latu Maka’afi stood out. Virtually unstoppable when on the charge, he opened the scoring in the 2nd minute with a solo sprint from half-way, and went on to claim a total of 4 tries.
Winger Ian Culligan, on his maiden first-team appearance, seized his chance with both hands – and feet – speeding his way to a second-half hat-trick.
Twelve tries came after the interval, as Manchester, who had managed only 3 substitutes for their squad, wilted visibly.
Other tries for the Dalesmen were from centre (and captain, in Rob Baldwin’s absence) Chris Malherbe (3), full-back Andy Hodgson (2), lock Alastair Allen (2), substitute prop Neal Clarke (2), substitute winger Ian Dixon, centre Mark Bedworth, flanker Dan Solomi and stand-off Joe Ford. Ford made 5 first-half conversions, with Bedworth adding 7 after the break when Ford gave way to Luke Gray at No 10.
Wharfedale: A Hodgson; D Hall (I Dixon 45), C Malherbe, M Bedworth, I Culligan; J Ford (L Gray 40), D Matthews; A Mason, S Graham (D Charnley 51), M Chivers (N Clarke 51), J Mason, A Allen (R Brown 48), L Maka’afi, D Solomi, T Ball.
Manchester: R Wellock; O Lucas (S Davis 2), M Rockey (H Noar 53), L Haidinger, M Hall; G Taylor, D Carlton; K Stock, J Gould, S Prest, M Walker-Fitton, J Doney, F Collyer-Bristow, Z Hammond, C Harriman
Referee: Matthew Daubney.