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Wharfedale 33 Stourbridge 5

November 22nd, 2013
The Greens held the whip hand throughout this absorbing and feisty warm-up match, and the impressive margin of victory against a club reckoned by many to be National 2 North promotion favourites was fully warranted. While this was a very pleasing all-round team performance from the Dalesmen, the marked difference between the sides was in the forwards. Stourbridge, fielding a pack containing six of their seven newly signed players, never came to terms with the home side’s power and slick organisation. Significantly, four of Wharfedale’s five tries were scored by forwards – and it could well have been more. With skipper and No 8 Rob Baldwin in inspirational form, the pack simply dominated their game but outclassed opposite numbers. It took just 4 minutes for the Greens to open their account, evergreen centre Andy Hodgson scoring unopposed after intercepting a pass off the ground by Saxons’ Ben Barkley following a bungled drop-out. Centre Lloyd Davies added the conversion. The visitors eschewed one kickable penalty in favour of a (wasted) shot at a close-line-out, but already the Greens were starting to take a stranglehold on the game. With meaningful possession denied them, Stourbridge strived to up the tempo, and exchanges became decidedly heated midway through the half. Hodgson and flanker James Tyson both left the field for a blood break – but not before Tyson had grabbed a try (18 mins) following a fierce forward maul. A massive hit by the revitalised Alastair Allen on Saxons’ lock Robbie Hurrell left the big No 5 in need of lengthy attention. On play resuming, Stour were gifted a score, substitute stand-off Caolan Ryan taking an intercept chance and speeding 80 metres to the line. In the closing stages of the half Bell, enjoying a fine match first at fly-half then at scrum-half, claimed a hacked ball and flicked up a neat scoring pass for scrum-half James Gough. Davies missed the conversion but slotted a penalty for a half-time score of 20-5. An early flurry on the restart earned Stour a penalty chance, which came to nought, and thereafter one-way traffic resumed toward the visitors’ line. Gough burgled a disrupted scrum for his second try (51), and Davies landed another penalty (55). Dan Solomi was, of course, expected and expecting to score, and his customary try duly arrived (69) with a typical scamper after he and Ian Larkin had each gone close during unremitting Greens pressure. Wharfedale (squad): Alastair Allen, Rob Baldwin, Will Bell, Richard Brown, Simon Crabtree, Tom Davidson, Lloyd Davies, James Druce, Christian Georgiou, James Gough, Steve Graham, Dan Hart, Andy Hodgson, Simon Horsfall, Adam Howard, Chris Howick, Ian Larkin, Adam Mason, Richard Rhodes, Chris Steel, Dan Solomi, Mark Tampin, Nick Taylor, James Tyson
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