Wharfedale 14 Barking 34
This was a big match. For the visitors the continuing quest for the title. For the home side the search for some measure of credibility after last week doleful outing.
The Greens sent out more or less the same side. A chance for redemption and even glory – and Wharfedale do have some history in taking out the top teams towards the end of the season. In the end they fell somewhere in between, Barking maintaining their impressive unbeaten run and their push for Championship status with a clinical hard-fought victory against a Wharfedale side thankfully showing far more characteristic spirit than a week ago against Otley.
After half an hour of high class contest the teams were deservedly locked at a try apiece. First winger David Vincent displayed the fleet-footed pace that has made him the visitors’ leading scorer in winning a foot race to the line after a promising Green attack had broken down in the home twenty-two. Though Barking were able to exert pressure from long periods of patiently recycled possession, Wharfedale with the ball in hand looked dangerously penetrative and were rewarded within minutes with a spectacular individual 40-yard burst by flanker Dan Solomi.
Two tries at the start and finish of a ten-minute Wharfedale sin-bin either side of half time were enough to send Barking on their way to negotiating this potentially tricky fixture. The visitors regained the lead with an Adam Armstrong penalty and capitalised on Chris Malherbe’s dismissal when flanker James Ngan drove over from a protracted maul at the Wharfedale line. Armstrong’s conversion gave Barking a 17-7 lead at the break.
An early second half try from impressive long-striding centre Henry Staff after excellent work on the floor by outstanding lock Dan Lloyd –Jones put the visitors clear. And two further late tries against tiring tackling, the first by scrum-half Matt Heeks and then by centre Kevin Sorrel, both converted by Armstrong gave Barking both a bonus point and an ultimately comfortable victory. For the final quarter Wharfedale threw on some heavy forward artillery led by Coach Tom McGee. Fleetingly the purposeful aggression looked promising but the visitors’ defence was merely dented rather than broken.
The final score-line did perhaps little justice to a much improved home display despite a consolation try from lock Richard Brown converted as the final whistle went by Tom Barrett. Wharfedale’s combative play throughout rescued a positive direction to their play for the games to come, but for all their flashes of attack they foundered on the granite defence of the Londoners whose all-round clinical efficiency made them admirable and deserved winners.
WHARFEDALE: A Monks (T Davidson 54); N Taylor, C Malherbe, A Hodgson, S Horsfall; T Barrett, S Cottrell; C Steel, I Larkin (B Sowrey 62), N Dickinson, (T McGee 54); R Rhodes (R Brown 48); T Vaioleti; D Hughes (A Allen 62), D Solomi, R Baldwin
BARKING: A Armstrong; D Vincent, H Staff, K Sorrell S Alfeld; W Nelson, M Heeks; N Auterac A MacKenzie 60), J Owens, A Liffchack; D Lloyd-Jones, B Thomas; J Ngan, A Andrews ( T Burns 68), J Kellard (Capt)
REFEREE: Greg MacDonald