Wharfedale battled hard in difficult conditions for a well-deserved victory on the road. Playing uphill in the first half Dale dominated territory and even though Tigers had plenty of ball they never got past the Wharfedale 10 metre line.
Wharfedale took the lead with a superb finish after 2 minutes by Oli Cicognini who collected the ball with 40 metres to go and even with plenty of Tigers around he broke clean away for a try. Tom Barrett’s conversion took him past the 1,000 points mark for Wharfedale.
Barrett notched a penalty 5 minutes later to give Dale a 10 point advantage.
Oli Cicognini was soon yellow carded for the use of a swinging arm in the tackle. Tigers could not make the numerical advantage count. It was the visitors who came closest to scoring but the conditions proved to be too difficult and chances to score were spurned.
One of the moments of the match came during this period. Sheffield won a line out on their own 10 metre line and, for some reason, Richard Rhodes found himself on his own trying to stop a pride of lions from making progress. No progress was made and Rhodes, now playing at a high level, forced the mistake!
The first half finished with neither side able to cope with the greasy ball but Wharfedale going in for break with a good lead.
Barrett opened up the second half with another penalty. Barrett’s kick off saw Tigers send the ball up to near their own 10 metre line for a Dale line out. A good line out was followed by 6 strong phases and the penalty 30 metres out.
Wharfedale pressed again and had a clear territorial advantage but errors in the last few metres meant that they could not cross the line.
A change in personnel did lead to Tigers making progress. Substitute winger, Charles Cone, was on the end of an overlap and had room to run. He showed great pace to charge up to Dale’s 22. With only Tom Barrett to beat, Cone stopped and looked inside for support and the Dale cover had time to handle the situation.
Wharfedale quickly made adjustments to the defence and again had Sheffield pinned in their own half. Barrett missed a snatched drop goal attempt after 65 minutes but made up for it with a successful attempt after 75 minutes to seal the game. The position was set up after another turnover, a feature of Dale’s strong play all afternoon, was followed by 6 phases and Barrett given plenty of space and time to take aim.
Sheffield’s restart was retaken and the home side mounted a strong attack. The attack seemed to have petered out but Sheffield found themselves as close to Dale’s line as they had been all afternoon with an attacking 5 metre line out. A successful catch and drive was held short of the line and two phases later Cicognini emerged with the ball and the danger passed.
It was not a day for try scoring, but it was a day when the Wharfedale defence put in a fantastic shift and never relented. Apart from in the last few minutes Sheffield Tigers never threatened Dale’s line. Tackle after tackle was made and high scoring Tigers were nilled.
The team worked as a unit and every player contributed to the win. Barrett got the nod in the Rugby Paper and the Sheffield Tigers’ skipper gave the honours on the day to Kieran Frost, especially for his work in the line out. The whole squad should share the Star Man award.
Assistant referee, Don Holme, wondered how your scribe was going to make this match sound exciting. To be honest it was not a spectacle of fast open rugby. The conditions saw to that. It was a day for players to step up and battle for field position, look after the ball and garner what scraps were on offer. This happened and Barrett took full advantage.
Wharfedale: – Robbie Davidson; Joel Gill, Tom Davidson, Rhys Lovegrove (Harry Dunne 63), Oliver Cicognini (Tom Mann 78); Tom Barrett, Phil Woodhead; Toms Asejevs (Joe Altham 40), Dan Stockdale, Reece Ward (Asejevs 77), Kieran Frost (Adam Howard 66), Richard Rhodes, Matty Houghton, James Tyson, George Hedgley. Replacement not used Stevie Graham
Scrums – Wharfedale 6 from 6 (inc 2 pens for). Sheffield Tigers 8 from 8
Line outs – Wharfedale 10 from 13. Sheffield Tigers 6 from 13 (inc 1 pen for, 1 knock on at the line by each side)
Penalties awarded for – Wharfedale 7 (inc the 2 scrum penalties). Sheffield Tigers 9 (inc the line out penalty)
Tom Barrett passed 1,000 league points for the club and now stands just 17 points behind Bedders (Mark Bedworth) at the top of the list