Dale may have dominated the first half and the start of the second half to take a 33-8 lead but Sheffield Tigers then ran riot and scored 45 unanswered points to win the match 33-53. Tigers started playing a much more open style of rugby and Star Man, Jamie Broadley, ran the show. His runs were devastating and he also stripped the ball and ran in tries.
Tigers opened the try fest with an unconverted try from Henri Packard. This was easy as they quickly passed to left wing, Packard, who had far too much room and he ran in, untouched, from his own ten metre line. From the restart Tigers opened up again and ran the ball deep into Dale’s half. The touch saved Dale but they won the ensuing line out and drove the Tigers back and won a penalty.
Wharfedale took the lead after a 30 metre catch and drive was ended by a short burst from Kieran Frost. Tom Barrett added the extras. Strong play from the Dale eight pushed Tigers back and penalties followed. Another catch and drive resulted in Joe Altham crashing over but no conversion.
Mark Ireland slotted a penalty for Tigers to make the score 12-8. Both sides had chances to score. Perhaps the clearer chance came after good work from the visitors ended with Mark Ireland dancing through up to Dale’s line. Only a desperate tackle from Tom Barrett and Archie Hancock stopped him from crossing the whitewash. His offload went to Kieran Frost and Wharfedale ran the ball out of defence. Barrett released Tom Mann who quickly broke away but, ignoring the support on both sides, kicked ahead. The kick chase looked good but Dale gave away a penalty and field position was lost. From the line out Tigers spread the ball left and Broadley split Dale’s midfield wide open. He seemed to have set up a try for left wing, Henri Packard, but Ben Parkinson put in a superb cover tackle.
The Wharfedale pack then took charge and worked their way into the visitor’s 22. Mann again threatened to break and good recycled ball was carried by Adam Howard and Richard Rhodes. A well timed pass from Tom Barrett allowed Dan Stockdale to break tackles and charge towards the line. George Hedgley then finished off a fine move and Barrett added the extras.
The pack were soon back on the offensive. They destroyed Sheffield from a scrum that drove Tigers back and from which they were unfortunate not to score. Pressure was growing and the first half finished with a penalty try to Dale. From a 5 metre scrum the Dale eight were again dominant and only a cynical kicking of the ball away saved the try, but referee, Daniel Woods, dealt with the offence and added a yellow card to the penalty try; Tiger’s No 6, Frank Wragg, getting the ten minute rest. Dale were cheered off the pitch by a buoyant crowd with a 26-8 lead and a bonus point already in the bag.
Wharfedale started the second half just as strongly. Sheffield exited from the kick off for a Dale line out in Dale’s half. The pack won a clean line out and drove forward getting a penalty and hearing the Tiger’s pack get another final warning. Another good line out set up the forwards and two phases later Tiger’s prop, William Bennett, was sinbinned for lying on the ball. Dale went for the corner. Richard Rhodes caught the ball in the line out and, with Sheffield refusing to engage, he kept the ball, turned round and strolled over for Dale’s fifth try. Barret slotted the extra two from the tee.
Then Tigers cut loose. Broadley ran at Wharfedale from deep on 51 minutes, Mark Ireland converted. Broadley was involved twice in the move; both times running with ease through tackles. Greg Mellor touched down next on 57 minutes, finding space on the right wing, with Oli Cicognini not allowed to get up.
Packard followed 10 minutes later and Ireland’s conversion closed the gap to 33-29. Surely now time to stick it up the jumper and not be careless. But this, it seems, is not the Wharfedale way. Possession was soon given away. Two minutes later Broadley set up Packard for his third try which took Sheffield into the lead.
Broadley’s next converted try showed that either Dale had already given up or he had turned into superman. Tackles were attempted but brushed off with ease. Packard was then given the freedom of the Avenue to score his fourth. This was a result of Broadley taking the ball off a Wharfedale player with relative ease. Broadley fished off his exhibition by halting a Dale attack in his own 22 by stripping the ball. He picked the ball up and ran 75 metres to score his third. Ireland finished the scoring with a fine touch line conversion.
At half time there was talk of a turning point. The last 30 minutes left Wharfedale, players, management and supporters, stunned and shocked.
Wharfedale: – Tom Mann; Ben Parkinson (Jack Johnston 72), Charlie Graham, Tom Davidson, Oli Cicognini; Tom Barrett, Archie Hancock; Joe Altham, Ian Larkin (c) (Dan Stockdale 19), Reece Ward (Toms Asejevs 54), Kieran Frost, Richard Rhodes, Adam Howard (Stevie Graham 59), James Tyson, George Hedgley (Tom Whyte 40).
Scrums – Wharfedale 5 awarded, 5 won (inc 1 pen). Tigers 7 from 7 (inc 2 pens).
Line Outs – Wharfedale 15 from 17 ( 1 pen awarded against and 1 Free Kick). Tigers – 4 from 4.