The only statistic that matters is the final score. A game dominated by Wharfedale was brilliantly won by Otley who stuck to their guns, defended obstinately and took their chances when they had them, to win by three points.
Wharfedale had the better of the opening few minutes and could have taken the lead but a penalty kick at goal was wide of the mark. Otley then attacked and with Dale’s poor efforts at exiting ended with a scrum advantage on the Dale 10 metre line.
Otley took the lead with a try from Joe Rowntree after the forwards had set up a good field position. Rowntree converted. Wharfedale then attacked again and drove deep into Otley territory and won a penalty just left of the posts. The three points were missed as the ball grazed the wrong side of the posts. Otley were given a warning from the referee for repeated infringements.
The next five minutes were played in midfield with Dale having a great scoring opportunity when Robbie Davidson fielded a kick ahead and ran the ball back with interest. He linked up with Joe Altham who seemed to give the scoring pass to Ben Parkinson but an amazing cover tackle from Alex Beaumont took Parkinson into touch. Strong running from Otley took them to nearly half way and a penalty award. An optimistic penalty kick hit the bottom of the post and Dale cleared. Otley attacked from the line out and won another penalty in front of the posts. This time Rowntree had no problem and Otley had a 10 point lead.
Dale then attacked and attacked. Another “final warning” was issued by Mr. Sharp when Otley again slowed down Wharfedale possession illegally. Dale did not take the opportunity of three points but went for the corner. Again Otley kept Dale out but this time earned a yellow card but kept the try line intact! Dale opted for an attacking scrum but the ball was dropped and Otley escaped as Dale gave away a free kick at the ensuing scrum. Still Wharfedale pressed but Otley never gave in and defended the line with tremendous enthusiasm.
Things improved in the second half for the home side and they were rewarded with a penalty try to close the gap. The Otley skipper had received another warning about illegal work close to the line and Mr. Sharp had had enough (but no extra yellow card). Otley were as confused, as were a lot of the crowd, as Dale ran back to the half way line whilst the visitors gathered under the posts. A Penalty Try is now worth 7 points and no is conversion needed.
Dale were growing in confidence and strong straight running saw them dominate again. A break from scrum half Phil Woodhead was finished off with a try for Jack Barnard. Davidson converted. Wharfedale players were running straight and with more purpose and, most importantly, not making mistakes.
Otley had a brief foray into Dale territory which ended when a box kick from Woodhead was followed up by Oli Cicognini and a perfectly timed tackle dumped the Otley ball catcher into touch on the half way line. More good work followed but as Dale swept forward the scoring opportunities were not taken. Dale did everything to try and score but resolute defence stopped them, coupled with pushing the ref to the limit. Eventually another yellow card followed but no tries. The Otley line was battered but shouts of great defence persisted.
Otley broke away from a line out in their own 22 and 13 phases later scored wide to the right to retake the lead when winger Henry Roberts was on hand to finish off a superb move. Rowntree slotted the touchline conversion.
Dale attacked again but another poor pass ended a promising move and Otley closed the game out. Otley should be proud of their efforts and have the bragging rights.
It was difficult for some of the players and supporters to hold their heads up after such a disappointing result but there was so much to be pleased with. The set piece stats were very good, the line out was 85% and the scrum 100%. On another day, with a bit of luck and a bit more precision, Wharfedale could have won this game by a big margin. The extra officials (there were three doing various monitoring/ assessing) thought that, after 65 minutes, Dale should be winning by about 30 points to 10.
Otley can be proud of their win and their committee and players knew what a great result it was for them. One of their players commented that it was a new tactic and they did not really enjoy attacking anyway.
We need to believe in our team, back the coaches and players and turn this domination into points and wins.
R. Davidson, B. Parkinson (Cicognini 29), Gill, Dunne, Prell, Hainsworth (Booth 72), Woodhead, Altham (Graham 75), Stockdale, Ward (Asejevs 33, Ward 59), Hedgley, Borrill (Mason 60), Barnard, Tyson (Mason 6, Tyson 23), Burridge.
Wharfedale – 4 scrums. 4 won (inc 1 pen)
Otley – 8 scrums. 7 won (inc 1 free kick), 1 lost (penalty to Dale)
Line outs –
Wharfedale – 20 line outs. 17 Won, 3 Lost (incl. 1 not straight)
Otley – 10 line outs. 10 won
Wharfedale 4 Otley 15 + two yellow cards
Wharfedale 170 Otley 81
The match photos are available under the Photos tab. Follow the Link to Flikr Album.