The opening game of the season turned into a nightmare for Wharfedale as they were outscored by 5 tries to 2. The afternoon was epitomised by Tom Barrett failing to score after a superb break took him to the Macclesfield line, only to drop the ball in the act of scoring. Even the Macclesfield announcer had awarded the try, only to be told that the ref had awarded a scrum to Macclesfield.
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and no breeze, so perfect conditions for running rugby.
The Cheshire side kicked out of defence and had a clear exit strategy. The line out count was heavily in Dale’s favour, especially in the second half when Dale had 10 line outs to Macc’s 2. If statistics mean anything then the mistakes cost Dale any chance of keeping in touch in the second half. They had possession through 35 phases to Macclesfield’s 22 but handling errors meant they sometimes went backwards surrendering good field position.
Dale started strongly and took the lead with a try from Toms Asejevs after 4 minutes, Barrett converted. The try came from a line out and good work from the forwards and backs.
Toms Asejevs’ try
Macclesfield hit back 13 minutes later when Lewis Barker exposed Dale’s left flank and swept into the visitor’s 22. The forwards piled in and 5 phases later lock David Marwick crashed over under the posts. Lewis Barker added the two points to bring the sides level.
The next few minutes summed up Dale’s tale of woe. A promising move in the home side’s 22 ended when a long pass was easily picked off and two phases later a penalty given away. Attack had been turned into defence with a Macc line out on Dale’s 22. No problem as Dale stole the line out and a break from Ben Booth took play up to half way; then a knock on. Macc chipped ahead from the scrum and Josh Prell ran the ball back with interest only for a knock on to spoil his efforts. Another knock on gave the Blues a scrum on half way and they worked 4 phases before Dale forced a penalty. A chance to get deep into opposition territory, but no touch was found, and Macc ran the ball back to the half way line. The next passages of play were dominated by Macclesfield who eventually had a scrum on the 22. 7 phases later space was created for Barker to nip in for a well created try which he himself converted.
The start of the second half was another reflection on the match. A deep restart from Barrett was instantly cleared up to half way for a Dale line out. The line out won, a confusion in the backs led to a touch of obstruction (commonly called crossing) and Barker kicked a 40 metre penalty.
More headaches followed when a kicking battle was badly lost when Dale failed to deal with a kick ahead by Macc.The home side battered the Dale line and won a penalty for a deliberate knock which saw Josh Burridge taking a ten minute rest in the sin bin. From the ensuing scrum Ryan Parkinson barged over for a converted try. Seven minutes into the second half and Dale were trailing by 17 points and down to 14 men.
The Green Machine responded with a sterling effort and grabbed three points from a Barrett penalty before Burridge returned to the fray. Further attacks were pressed home and the home side were now under pressure. From a successful 5 metre line out Jack Barnard drove in for a try wide to the right. Barrett was just short with the conversion but Dale were now on the front foot and momentum was building.
Jack Barnard’s try
The come back was ruined when, from the kick off, Dale sacrificed the ball in their own 22 and allowed the home side an easy converted try from Barker. This was another one phase try as the Blues punished Dale for squandering the ball and not exiting their 22!
The number 10 added another conversion to a solo Parkinson try, from a scrappy Dale line out, and finished with a penalty to take the home side’s tally past the 40 mark.
Not the season opener that the faithful, the players or the management wanted and there is a lot of work to do before the visit of Otley next Saturday.
Joel Gill; Josh Prell, Harry Dunne, Ben Booth (Ed Hainsworth 29), Ben Parkinson; Tom Barrett, Phil Woodhead (c); James Meehan (Steve Graham 7), Dan Stockdale, Toms Asejevs (Jack Hirst 74), Richard Rhodes (Jim Mason 73), George Hedgley (Kieran Frost 48), James Tyson, Jack Barnard (George Hedgley 73), Josh Burridge.
1st half –
Scrums – Wharfedale 0 from 0 Macclesfield 4 from 4
Line Outs – Wharfedale 6 from 7 Macclesfield 5 from 7
Phases – Wharfedale 39 Macclesfield 44
Wharfedale mistakes- Crossing 1, Forward Pass 1, Interception 1, Handling errors 2, Held up in the tackle 1.
2nd half –
Scrums – Wharfedale 2 from 2, Macclesfield 4 from 4 including 1 penalty
Line Outs – Wharfedale 8 from 10 (including one not straight), Macclesfield 2 from 2
Phases – Wharfedale 35, Macclesfield 22
Wharfedale mistakes – Crossing 1, Failure to collect kick ahead 1, handling errors 4, ball lost in contact 4.
Line out percentage – Dale 82% Macc 78%
Scrums – Both 100%
Total phases – Dale 74 Macc 66