“You do not play like a relegation side”. These were the kind words offered in the bar after the game by quite a few Sedgley supporters. Praise indeed, with Wharfedale losing another game and still rooted to the bottom of National League 2.
There were periods when Wharfedale did indeed dominate the match and had many positives to build on. There was not the usual procession of tries from the opponents in the first part of the game.
Wharfedale started well and a strong tackle from Tom Mann forced a knock on and good possession from the scrum. George Hedgley charged into Tiger’s territory but the move floundered with a dropped ball. Adam Howard put in three hefty tackles which caused problems for Park but the third one was judged as a no arms tackle and Park kicked for an attacking line out. Park opened the scoring after seven minutes with an unconverted try. Hooker, Daniel Maher, muscled over from short range.
Dale then hit back with two penalties from Tom Barrett to take the lead 5-6. The first after a kick and chase, and Tom Mann’s presence won the penalty. In between the two penalties a charge from Kieran Frost was only stopped 5 metres short.
Keiron Frost in action
Sedgley’s Mark Goodman finished off a good move to grab another unconverted try and with half time approaching Tigers led 10-6.
A poor pass was then easily intercepted by Stephen Collins on half way and Collins had a clear run to the line. His conversion took the score to 19-6. Still time for Barrett to add a penalty for 19-9 at half time.
Wharfedale should have scored from the kick off. A superb retake by Oli Cicognini was followed up by the Dale pack. Three phases later Cicognini collected a grubber kick and charged for the line. The scoring pass to Stevie Graham was knocked on with the line begging.
Another promising move developed when Cicognini again gathered a kick ahead and passed inside to Ben Parkinson. Dale were then punished for not protecting the ball and Callum McShane ran in from 70 metres under the posts. Collins was again successful from the tee. 10 minutes later Park’s Harrison Brown Raw went over the whitewash for another unconverted try. Sedgley now led 29-9.
Wharfedale scored their first try from a good run by Ben Parkinson who put a grubber through into the dead ball area. Charlie Graham showed his speed and tenacity and beat the cover to touch down for his first try for the first team on his debut. Barrett added the two points.
Sedgley Park made the game safe with two more tries. The first was well constructed with good skills shown in handling and support play. Jamie Harrison scored and Collins slotted the extras. The second was after a Sedgley attacking line out which the Dale pack held. Centre, Matthew Riley, ran a strong line through midfield and broke tackles to score under the posts. Collins made no mistake from the tee. Sedgley now had a 43-16 lead.
Wharfedale then came back strongly. A penalty kick was pushed to give Dale an attacking 5 metre line out. The maul rumbled forward and Adam Howard was awarded the try. Barrett took little time in adding a difficult conversion.
Another penalty kick was pushed up to the 5 metre line and another successful line out led to Kieran Frost crashing over. Barrett again rushed the kick but added the extras. Another try would have meant a valuable two bonus points for Dale. But despite gathering the restart, and going through 4 phases, a Sedgley boot got to the ball and sent it into touch.
There were many positives to take back to the Avenue from this match. The tackling improved, especially in the opening minutes. Archie Hancock and Tom Mann had solid games at scrum half and full back. Kieran Frost showed that he has strength and speed and contributed in attack and defence. His confidence was given a boost with a superb tackle into touch only minutes into the game when Sedgley were looking dangerous. Charlie Graham, coming on to the wing after 50 minutes, gave a really good account of himself and the try was a superb effort as he always looked to be second in the race for the touch-down.
The forwards were again worthy of the title the Green Machine. They may have been nudged back in the early scrums but ended in confident mood. Adam Howard and George Hedgley were the pick of the pack although this should not overshadow the work of all the forwards.
Ben Parkinson and Oli Cicognini both had good games. Cicognini showed the value of the kick/ chase and also Kieran Frost caused problems for Park from restarts.
If there were problems it came in organisation. On many occasions Park quickly spread the ball and outnumbered Dale on the flanks. Their excellent short passing game and offloading with runners in support was more effective than Dale’s slow long passes. Simple but effective rugby. Dale were also guilty of having the ball taken away from them which allowed Park to change from defence into attack.
If only! What a massive phrase. The two tries either side of half time from distance, 50 and 70 metres, proved to be the difference in an exciting game.
Wharfedale: – Tom Mann; Ben Parkinson, Joel Gill (Charlie Graham 51), Tom Davidson, Oli Cicognini; Tom Barrett, Archie Hancock; Joe Altham (Toms Asejevs 55), Ian Larkin (c) (Dan Stockdale 40), Reece Ward (Joe Altham 70), Richard Rhodes, Kieran Frost, Adam Howard (Stevie Graham 40), Chris Swainson (Adam Howard 60), George Hedgley.
Replacement not used: – Tom Whyte