Sedgley Pk 19 Wharfedale 27
In the end another good win, perhaps when things got fully going the most convincing so far.
Wharfedale’s powers of dogged competitive resilience, superior last-quarter fitness, allied to some consistent commanding long-distance goal-kicking from centre Tom Davidson were again the increasingly familiar ingredients of their fourth victory in five matches.
The Greens had most of the regular personal on board, minus the loss of Andy Hodgson with Luke Gray resuming at fly-half, Davidson reverting to inside centre, and Chris Black occupying the musical-chair position on the wing. What may have looked on paper a dramatic second-half turn around was in more prosaic reality a progressive strengthening of the Greens’ superior grip on affairs especially up front and a much livelier sense of purpose and speed of movement with the ball in hand.
It may have taken a half-time roasting from Coach McGee, a measure of Park indiscipline and 14 sweet points from Davidson’s boot to galvanise the Greens, but two well-taken tries in quick succession on the hour turned this close-fought match decisively in their favour.Wharfedale’s tally of 24 unanswered points after the break secured them a thoroughly deserved victory after trailing 19-3 at the interval.
Tigers collected three first half tries, the first by Alex Hurst. And the home centre went on to prove a crucial figure in the match. His fondness for playing on the edge gained him a second-minute interception score but also much later in the match two yellow cards – the second for a wild neck-high tackle – which allowed Wharfedale the extra scoring space they needed to finally crack the home defence. Park added a second try through prop Nick Flynn after a period of close pressure and finished the half strongly with a scorching left-wing finish by Mike Dutton from some swift recycled ball, full back Steve Nutt adding two conversions.
Although Horsfall was denied a try by a touch-in-goal decision, Wharfedale came away with a mere Davidson penalty to show for their lacklustre first half form, but after the break both Baldwin and Solomi were denied close-quarter scores before two further quick-fire penalties lit the Green fuse. They were rewarded for some much slicker and speedier movement of the ball with winger Chris Black’s try in the corner on 62 minutes. And three minutes later flanker David Hughes scorched clear from half way to put the visitors back on level terms. Davidson converted to give the Greens the lead and succeeded with two further penalties to wrap things up.
In all Davidson had eight penalty shots at goal, most of them from near 50 yards (succeeding with five) to opposing kicker Steve Nutt’s, single (successful) attempt. Such a pattern underlines both the Green’s better discipline and the pressure they were able to exert at the breakdown where Baldwin and Steel were outstanding.
Sedgley Park: Nutt; Blackwell, Hurst, Riley, Dutton; Wainwright, Wilkinson; Birchall, Oxley, Flynn; Atkinson, Holmes; Livesey, Dew, Crous.
Wharfedale: Whaites; Black, Malherbe, Davidson, Horsfall; Gray, Cottrell; Steel, Larkin (Soweby 46), Hooper (Chivers 46); Rhodes (Allen 40), Renton, Hughes, Solomi, Baldwin.
Referee: D Gamage (RFU)