Loughborough 10 Wharfedale 32

November 22nd, 2013
All things come (eventually) to those who wait. Wharfedale’s first visit to Loughborough produced that long-awaited away win that thankfully puts firmly to bed a sequence of losses away from home stretching back to last December. A victory that also leaves the promoted Students still searching for their first win. The Greens will be happy to get that monkey off their back. And given their powerful performances so far this season, it was no surprise that their fire-power up front was more than sufficient to subdue the Students and limit them to largely counter-attacking when they eventually managed to get their hands on the ball. Loughborough for all their fantastic off the field facilities and broader sports back-up may well struggle against many of their opponents. Despite their commendable energy and aspiration both on and off the field, their rugby remains somewhat short of the primacy and standard of their Sixties and Colleges’ heyday. Wharfedale dominated possession throughout the opening half. And after seven minutes of complete control going through the phases at pace some positive pick-and- drive play and a sweeping run out across the home posts saw winger Nick Taylor squeeze over in the corner. Tom Davidson, returning to the starting line up in the absence of Christian Georgiou, added a towering touch-line conversion. Loughborough were seeing virtually nothing of the ball but a rare incursion into attacking territory saw centre Andy Hall secure the Students’ first points with a well-taken penalty.  Wharfedale, prompted by the buzzing energy of scrum-half James Gough, continued to set problems to a tenacious Student defence without quite the penetration to produce a further score. But the Greens, as they have done consistently this season, made their opponents suffer at the scrummage. Some excellent destructive propping from Captain Chris Steel, a quick transfer from the back of the scrum and an audacious neat chip and re-gather under the home posts by Luke Gray saw the fly-half score his side’s second try. A routine conversion by Davidson and a further long penalty opened up a 17-3 lead for the visitors which despite its advantage hardly reflected their complete dominance of possession throughout the half. If Wharfedale, with a second-half breeze in their favour, though things were settled they were mistaken. Davidson added another penalty to increase the Wharfedale lead to 20-3. But the Students with some sustained possession for the first time rallied with an excellent counter-attacking run from deep by dangerous full-back Craig Holland converted by Hall. Despite some eye-catching forceful ball-carrying from replacement from replacement No8 Joe Burton this remained Loughborough’s only score. As Wharfedale regained control mid-way through the half their physicality resulted in a debilitating series of injuries at flanker, lock and prop to the Students. Deep in the final quarter, at a time when the Students have been running in tries against flagging opponents, they were the ones on the rack. Now adding pace and pressure in the loose to their set-piece dominance Wharfedale, with rampaging flanker James Tyson to the fore, added two tries in the final quarter. First Tyson himself barged over at the end of powerful mid-field surging run. Then further breakdown pressure within the twenty-two, a fine break by Andy Hodgson and a neat transfer by Tyson saw Taylor again squeeze over in the corner for his second try. Wharfedale can again be pleased with another powerful comprehensive and disciplined performance. They were again masters at the set piece. They managed the game sensibly, wisely opting to keep kicking to the minimum so as not set up counter-attack running from full-back Holland. Their four tries were the result of cutting-edge running with Taylor again master of the certain finish. Wharfedale’s physicality in defence was impressive too resulting in enforced substitutions by the home side in the face of bruising mid-field ball-carrying collisions. Wharfedale’s fitness levels too, against a side renowned for free scoring towards the ends of matches, were impressive in restricting the Students to a mere ten points against their average points total in the late twenties. And Tom Davidson’s 12 point haul included some precision kicking with only a final minute monster shot at goal fading wide. Welcome though it was bonus point was incidental to the main objective: that elusive away win. LOUGHBOROUGH STUDENTS: C Holland; C Kinlock (Capt), J Booth, A Hall, C Dowsett; C Surman. J Brookes; J Collister, G Harris, H Williams; M Rogerson, J Albon; J Parker, P Whitfield, J Freeman WHARFEDALE: T Davidson; N Taylor, A Hodgson, J Donkin, S Horsfall; L Gray (Will Bell 67), J Gough; C Steel (Capt), I Larkin (S Graham 45), M Tampin (A Howard 64); A Allen, J Tyson, A Myers, (C Howick 71) REFEREE: Tom Foley (RFU)
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