A match punctuated by a fighting Sale side ended with Wharfedale not getting anything out of the game.
Dale dominated possession and territory and were in the game until a breakaway try took the game away from them. Sale won the game with superb tactics and a well organised defence that was allowed to disrupt Wharfedale.
Wharfedale started the match playing a blend of fluent controlled rugby. George Hedgley took the kick off and charged his way through the Sale forwards up to his own 10 metre line. Tom Barrett then had time to aim a kick into Sale’s territory and good follow up work by Robbie Davidson and Tom Mann pinned the visitors back and forced them to kick to touch. This gave Dale an attacking line out on the 22. Dale went through 10 phases before being forced into touch.
Sale did not have the ball for too long and were soon back defending their line after another superb kick from Barrett.
Given a penalty from scrappy play on half way, the visitors took full advantage. They attacked and a grubber kick nearly led to a try but Dale had cover. In the incident Richard Rhodes was guilty of holding back a player and was yellow carded. Had the cover not been there the ref would have given a penalty try as well.
Sale took the lead with a try from Jack Moorehouse which was converted by Chris Johnson. This was a well-constructed score with the forwards combining to create the drive and force to go over the line.
Dale came back strongly into the game but three knock ons and a forward pass halted any real progress. Sale did have a brief period in Dale’s 22 but Sale hooker, Neil Briggs, gave away a penalty and Dale cleared. Briggs was lucky to remain on the field when he charged into the side of a ruck and with a head butt on Adam Howard went unnoticed by the officials but left Howard on the ground.
The game was getting a little fractious and after 30 minutes both sides lost a player to the sin bin. George Hedgley from Dale and Gaz Rawlings from Sale were given a 10 minute rest. This was doubly unfortunate for Dale as they had now both of their line out chiefs off the field. Richard Rhodes had gone off injured seven minutes earlier.
Sale were giving away penalties with abandon but Dale’s line out was not perfect and Sale held the 7 point lead until half time.
Sale extended the lead with a penalty kick from Johnson at the start of the second half. James Tyson seemed to have won another turnover but Joe Altham was pinged for not rolling away!
The decisions were, as usual, not going Dale’s way, but credit to the men in green for not badgering the officials and appealing all afternoon. Even so, they were soon attacking time and time again.
A Barrett penalty slid just wide but Dale pressure soon forced Sale into more penalties and a yellow card for their prop James Kelly. The ref described the offence as side entry but it looked more like an assault on Phil Woodhead as Woodhead was not in the maul and Kelly’s head went straight for Woody’s head. Even then Mr. Kelly stood there protesting his innocence.
An ambitious cross kick hung too long to be effective but Dale pressure soon led to a drop goal from Barrett and Wharfedale were on the scoreboard.
Then the breakaway converted try from winger Jonny Ratcliffe gave Sale a 3-17 lead. A Barrett clearance was taken by Ratcliffe 45 metres out and he broke away from Robbie Davidson, Tom Mann and Rhys Lovegrove to run in. Davidson got back and nearly stopped the try but Ratcliffe’s momentum saw him cross the line.
Barrett converted a second penalty and Johnson replied for Sale before a head butt was spotted and a red card issued to Sale player John Blanchard.
Dale then exerted strong pressure but various tactics worked for the defence. It must have been legal because the referee let them do it.
After last week’s game played in a blizzard it was hoped to see a free flowing game but Sale’s tactics were effective if not pretty.
The result edges Sale closer to promotion and leaves Dale still hovering above relegation. The neutrals in the crowd wondered which team were at the top and which team were struggling near the bottom, but any team that can “win ugly” deserves the rewards.
Wharfedale: – Tom Mann (Josh Prell 74), Joel Gill, Harry Dunne, Rhys Lovegrove (Tom Davidson 58), Robbie Davidson, Tom Barrett, Phil Woodhead, Joe Altham (Tom Asejevs 68), Dan Stockdale, Reece Ward, Adam Howard, Richard Rhodes (Stevie Graham 26, Ian Larkin 75), Kieran Frost, James Tyson, George Hedgley.
Scrums – Wharfedale 5 from 5 (inc 1 pen for). Sale – 10 from 10 (inc 1 pen for).
Line outs – Wharfedale 19 from 24 (inc 1 pen and 1 knock on for). Sale 6 from 6
24 line outs awarded for is certainly a record number since I’ve been keeping records. Just about sums the game up really.
Penalties: – Wharfedale awarded 18. Sale awarded 6.
Yellow Cards: – Wharfedale 2 Sale 2.
Red Cards: – Sale 1