Wharfedale just edged this hard fought and entertaining match to win their first home game of the season.
South Leicester took an early lead with a penalty kick and a drop goal from Rickie Aley.
One thing that showed in these early exchanges was that tackles were being made. Tom Davidson made a superb tackle after South’s No 8 Joseph Collingham had charged out of his own 22 and looked odds on to score. This was after a promising chip by Tom Barrett into the visitor’s 22 just bounced the wrong way with the try line beckoning.
Tom Barrett put Dale on the scoreboard with a penalty.
James Doherty had asked his players to “fight like dogs” and the backs showed this almost straight from the restart. Barrett sent a kick up to the half way line and Tom Davidson was straight at the catcher, ably assisted by Charlie Graham and Robbie Davidson. Tom Davidson secured the ball and set off. the backs were with him and the ball was recycled and carried forward. The ball was then swung left by James Tyson, Tom Barrett and Kieran Frost to Oliver Cicognini. The Wharfedale winger still had work to do but a combination of strength and speed took him to the line for an unconverted try.
South Leicester’s restart was claimed by their right wing Brandon Boshi, but he was flattened by a crunching tackle, from Adam Howard, and he lost the ball.
Dale soon found them back in their own 22 though and a poor clearance kick added pressure. South Leicester were handed field position when they were given a five metre scrum despite seeming to have knocked on twice. Justice was served as Dale, with cries of “River” circling the ground, won the scrum and Tom Davidson fired the ball up to half way.
With George Hedgley being held in the ruck, South’s centre, Matthew Cooke, ran around the blind side. Cooke offloaded to winger Myles Bean but Dan Stockdale was on hand with the cover tackle. Unfortunately, it ended a little high and a penalty was given away. The South Leicester forwards then drove from the line out and three phases later Daniel Ireland crashed over for an unconverted try to retake the lead.
Back came Wharfedale with a superb team try. Dale got possession on their own 10 metre line and went straight on to the attack. Phil Woodhead fed Charlie Graham who ran strongly at the defence. Woodhead fed Joe Altham and then on to Tom Barrett. A long pass was taken by Richard Rhodes who released George Hedgley who charged at the defence. Hedgley offloaded to Cicognini who passed inside to Kieran Frost. Frost ran into the 22 and Cicognini had followed up to receive his offload to score his second try. Barret’s conversion took the score to 15-11 with 5 minutes to go before the break.
South Leicester had the lead at half time when Daniel Ireland intercepted a pass on half way to touch down near the posts. Aley slotted the extras.
Dale started the second half by pinning the visitors back and forcing them to kick. Davidson ran the ball and quick recycled ball was passed to Rhodes and a clever pass was given to Cicognini who carried the attack up to the 22. Adam Howard was the next to drive forward and showed his determination in holding on to the ball. The next phase went wide right and then four phases later Adam Howard steamrolled over and stretched for the line for a converted try.
Adam Howard’s try
With South Leicester getting the rub of the ref’s whistle on a couple of decisions, Patrick Marks eventually broke through for South and Aley’s conversion took the score to 22-25. This belied the Green’s defence holding out for a long period in their own 22.
There were ironic cheers when soon after the restart Wharfedale were awarded a penalty. Up stepped Barrett to level the score at 25 all. Minutes later Wharfedale overpowered South Leicester at a scrum and gained good field position from the resulting penalty. Four phases later, after a successful line out and good drives from Howard and Dan Stockdale, the pressure told and Dale had another penalty. Barrett’s successful kick took Dale back into the lead.,/p>
This Wharfedale side did not buckle. The tackling kept going and when South Leicester did threaten Dale’s line, Tom Barrett and Robbie Davidson battled back and forced Brandon Boshi into touch. Wharfedale were a little confused when a maul was called as soon as they won the line out as it was going to ground and the South players lying all over the ball. The ref found a reason to correct the decision at the scrum and gave Dale a penalty – justice again seemed to win.
The visitor`s discipline was ragged and another penalty followed with an additional 10 metres for chat. More solid work from Dale closed the game out by keeping play in the opposition half, including a classic nudge form Barrett to pin the visitors back into their 22.
This was a strong, committed performance from all players wearing the Green shirt. Tackles were strong and all the backs stepped up and held the line or made good cover tackles. The pack was magnificent and the front row deserved the Man of the Match award; closely followed by the back five. Adam Howard was an intimidating force with ball in hand as well as in the tackle. Hedgley, Rhodes, Tyson and Frost were all over the pitch often providing a vital pass in midfield.
Players were running on to the ball with confidence and players were there to support and carry attacks forward.
Wharfedale: – Tom Davidson; Robbie Davidson, Charlie Graham, Joel Gill, Oli Cicognini; Tom Barrett, Phil Woodhead (c); Joe Altham, Dan Stockdale (Ian Larkin 64), Reece Ward, Adam Howard, Richard Rhodes, Kieran Frost, James Tyson, George Hedgley.
Replacements not used: – Toms Asejevs, Stevie Graham, Jack Kitching, Jack Johnson.
Wharfedale – Scrums – 8 from 10 (inc 1 pen awarded). Line outs 6 from 7.
South Leicester – Scrums 8 from 10 (inc 1 pen & 1 free kick awarded for. 1 pen awarded to Wharfedale). Line outs 10 from 12 (inc 1 not straight)