Another disappointing result but not a disappointing performance.
Wharfedale travelled south last Saturday to deepest Herefordshire. Wisely avoiding the M6 the route went through parts of Wales, rolling countryside, finishing off on a one-track road with the coach brushing hedges on both sides of the road.
A closely contested first half ended with Luctonians having a 13-8 lead. This was deserved as they had spent long periods in Dale’s half.
Louis Silver started the scoring with a penalty after 23 minutes before Pierce Morell touched down after a short period of scrappy play close to Dale’s line. A concerted attack from Luctonians seemed to have been broken up but from nowhere Morell was under the posts. Silver added the two points.
Dale then forced their way into the match and were rewarded with a penalty kick by Robbie Davidson. A minute later Silver responded with another three pointer.
Oliver Cicognini flying
Wharfedale finished the first half strongly. The scrum was dominant and penalties were awarded to Wharfedale which led to superb field position. From an attacking line out Josh Burridge barged over the whitewash from close range. A difficult kick was just missed by Davidson but Dale had clawed their way back into the game.
The home side extended their lead when Pierce Morell managed to break a tackle for his second converted try. Again, this was the result of good build up from Luctonians but Dale seemed to have averted the danger, only for Morell to be over the line with the ball in his hands.
Back came Wharfedale, and with the scrum driving forward a series of penalties followed. Robbie Davidson slotted two long attempts from 48 and 46 metres and the Green Machine was only a score away from winning the match. The first attempt showed Davidson’s possible range as the ball soared over the bar. There was a light breeze but this showed the potential of Davidson’s boot.
Adam Howard on the charge
The home side then pressed again and two successful penalties took the match away from Dale with a 26-14 lead.
The final period of the game was all Wharfedale who deserved a try and a losing bonus point. They did everything but score and travelled home with their heads high.
Morell may have scored the two tries but it was Luctonians lock, Lawrence Breese, who was the outstanding player on the park. He was a constant problem when carrying, and put in a fine shift in defence. He also ended the threat of a Wharfedale score at the end of the game by leaping to steal Dale’s line out.
Dale had taken the field with an odd line up. There were three scrum halves in the backs and at one stage 5 props in the forwards! The unlikely half back partnership of Archie Hancock and Phil Woodhead worked well and Woodhead certainly blocked the channel if any threat came his way.
Youngsters, Ben Booth and Will Lawn, took on the job as centres and neither player was found lacking. Booth made a superb break in the first half after Simon Borrill took Luctonians line out ball. The back three, Oli Cicognini, Josh Prell and Robbie Davidson, played soundly and all had strong runs but could not break free.
The pack was outstanding. What a joy it was to see the Green Machine driving forward at the set piece. Referee, Mr. Davis, did ping them a couple of times for technical reasons. One occasion was for hinging! I doubt if anyone was guilty as none of the props I spoke to knew what the offence really meant.
A slice of luck could have brought greater rewards for Dale but this team have such potential.
Despite the result I am pleased to report that the long trek south was an enjoyable experience. The hospitality was outstanding and the lunch, for the alickadoos, now including such stalwart ex-players as Adam Mason and Alistair Allen, will take a lot of beating. Adge was there to speak for Wharfedale and, for once, he was understood! The new young lads not only did well on the field but all survived, with aplomb, the usual initiation ceremonies on the return home.
Wharfedale – Robbie Davidson; Josh Prell (Jack Johnson 77), Harry Dunne, Ben Booth, Oli Cicognini; Philip Woodhead (c), Archie Hancock; Joe Altham, Dan Stockdale (Ian Larkin 33), Reece Ward (Toms Asejevs 74), Jim Mason (Adam Howard 29), Simon Borrell, George Hedgley, James Tyson (Steve Graham 41), Josh Burridge.