Blaydon 24 Wharfedale 38

A superb first half display by the Dale saw a bonus point secured after 21 minutes and a hat trick for Rian Hamilton before the break. The very strong wind made conditions difficult; the journey up to the North East had been treacherous with the A1 littered with overturned lorries and long hold ups which meant the team and the faithful being delayed.

The first try came when Blaydon spilled the ball and Dan Stockdale cleaned it up and fed Hamilton who burst clear from Dale’s 10 metre line to score. Tom Davidson added the conversion. Blaydon replied minutes later with good handling and strong running setting up Jonathan Ashman to break through to touch down. Jonathan Dowell brought the scores level with the conversion.

The Dale eight were in confident move and the next try came from a 5-metre scrum. The pack drove forward and Henry McNab was given the chance to pop over the line to grab an unconverted try. Hamilton’s second try came from his interception on half way; again, his speed took him away from the defence to score. Dale’s bonus point came from a good catch by Bradley Viner who broke away to score. Davidson converted both to put Dale 7 – 26 up. Hamilton’s third try was another piece of individual skill. The ball was turned over on half way and passed to the winger. This time he sent a kick forward and he beat the defence to touch the ball down. No conversion but a commanding 24-point lead at half-time.

Hamilton added to his haul in the second half before Blaydon rallied in the last 6 minutes. Credit to the home side as they ran in three tries to earn a much needed bonus point. Their tries were scored by Jack Appleton, Evan Lawther and Sam Laidler with Nathan Horsfall converting the last one to end the game.

This victory gave Dale a second win on the trot and more importantly a second bonus point win. Blaydon struggled at the set piece and this allowed Dale to gain really good field position and meaningful possession, especially in the first half. The line out was a bit of a lottery because of the wind but this did not hamper Dale’s progress. The five points saw Dale climb up to 9th in the table and sets up an interesting clash with Fylde a week on Saturday (12th) at the Avenue.

This was an interesting match as the wind played a big factor and had a hand in stopping real fluency from both sides. There was some good open rugby played but this did not lead to five of Dale’s tries. The home match report rather suggests that they were generous in letting Dale score. The travelling faithful were very pleased to see the score rattle up and also pleased to see some good handling moves from both forwards and backs. One of the best moves saw Matt Beesley carry the ball and offload to Chris Jackson who carried the ball really well. The move broke down when the ball was spun left.

Were Blaydon generous? I would suggest that good pressure from Dale forced mistakes and Dale switched to attack and left the home defence flat footed. Hamilton now has 16 tries for the season and hopefully a lot more to come.

Wharfedale Head Coach, Jonathan Feeley, commented after the game “Five points away from home on that surface is a really satisfying return, especially considering the conditions which could have made a lottery of the outcome. Their league position doesn’t do them justice-they are a physical, committed team who make life very difficult. But our skills and clinical finishing was the difference. Rian Hamilton’s finishing was lethal, his form in the last two matches has been incredible. Brad Viner continues to develop and arguably took the most difficult opportunity. But the other boys worked hard to create those chances; the front 8 dominated the set piece and I thought Harry Bullough’s decision making in defence in particular was so accurate. We welcome Fylde to the Avenue in two weeks’ time, that will be our biggest test at home to date considering their form, a benchmark game for our rapidly developing squad”.

Wharfedale: W. Davidson, Hamilton (Viner 78), Bullough, Blakeney-Edwards (Moore 47), Viner (Kaup-Samuels 67), T. Davidson, McNab, Beesley, Stockdale (c), Dickinson (Wells 67), Borrill, Green, Stockton (Jackson 38), Carlson (G. Altham 56), Burridge.

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