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Wharfedale 13 – 18 Sale

November 14th, 2016

Sale had the majority of territory and possession in the first half but poor execution saw them going in at half time only leading by 18 points to 7. Dale were the superior side in the second half and again it was only errors in finishing that saw them restricted to only scoring six points.

If the Green Machine was heavily criticised for their lack of effort in the tackle a few weeks ago, then they have certainly answered their critics since. They have given three displays where courage has been in evidence, bodies have been put on the line and the players have shown what it really means to have the privilege of wearing the famous Green Shirt.

A slice of good fortune in these last three games would have seen Dale come away with three well deserved victories. This was so evident against high flying Sale who have ambitions on moving further and further up the league system.

Sale did have the edge in the first half but the Yorkshire side showed that they were not going to be overrun.

Some good handling from Sale allowed space for Chris Townsend to go over in the corner. McGovern missed the conversion. This was a planned move and started by Tom Ailes slipping his binding at No 8 and then driving the scrum round. With the Dale back row out of the picture he picked it up on the blind side, and fed the open side flanker who simply had to pass it on to the unopposed Townsend. Illegal it might have been, but damned clever if you get away with it which Ailes did.

Dale were starved of possession but scored when a weak pass was intercepted by Scott Jordan. Tom Barrett was on hand to race clear and run in from 60 metres. Barrett added the 2 points to take Dale into the lead.

Tom Ailes did the hard work for the second try (if not a full repeat of the first move then it was close) when he broke from the set piece and off loaded to Townsend who skipped over for his second try. McGovern found the target from the tee. He also added two more penalty shots before half time.

The second half saw Dale pressing to close the gap. Their only reward was two penalty kicks from Barrett and a bonus point. It could have been more but they seemed to freeze in the act of scoring and let Sale off the hook.

Passes were either dropped or inaccurate or not made when the line was begging. It would be wrong to leave the performance only commenting on the mistakes. For once the opposition made more handling errors than Dale and the effort put into defence was truly worth saying again, magnificent.

The set pieces were edged by Wharfedale, even though losing three line outs they still finished the day with a better display than Sale. The set scrum may have retreated at times but also the Green machine held or even went forwards and won the scrum-penalty battle.

With injuries midweek meaning Matt Hall and Tom Whyte (who came on after 20 minutes) were called up from the seconds, one or two heads were looking a little down. But, what an afternoon they both had. Strong in the tackle and forcing turnovers they were both candidates for Man of the Match. As was Dan Stockdale who also got through a tremendous amount of work. Toms Asejevs also strengthened the front row and managed, with Joe Altham, to get Dale moving up front. George Hedgley had another impressive game. The nod was given to Jamie Guy at centre. Maybe Huw Morgan made him look good but Guy was solid in defence and causing problems in attack.

The only thing lacking was the commitment from the missing supporters. Those that have been there for the last three weeks have witnessed a Green Machine that is worth the trip down the Avenue, worth putting on an extra layer to cope with the Dale`s weather and certainly worth the support of all the faithful.

Wharfedale Harry Bullough, Scott Jordan, Huw Morgan, Jamie Guy, Oliver Cicognini (Robert Davidson 69); Tom Barrett, Will Lawn; Joe Altham, Jordon Poole (Tom Whyte 20), Toms Asejevs, George Hedgley, Richard Rhodes, Dan Stockdale, Matt Hall (Nathan Myers 65), Josh Burridge (c). Replacements not used James Huck, George Altham.

The match photographs are available under the Photos tab. Then click on Link to Flikr Album.

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