Meagre possession in the first half was given away too easily and strong play from Coventry meant that the result was decided by half time. Coventry led 36-7 having rattled up five tries to the visitor’s one. Mistakes by the Dalesmen were punished with Coventry centres scoring three tries. Strong play from the Coventry forwards created overlaps and space for Rob Knox and James Tincknell to score. Matt Price crossed for Cov’s fourth try after an efficient catch and drive from an attacking line out. With Matt Jones adding two conversions and a penalty Coventry were ahead by 29 points in as many minutes.
The Yorkshire side gradually reduced the error count and were rewarded with a try by Huw Morgan which Jamie Guy converted.
Ex Wharfedale player, Tincknell grabbed another try before half time to stress Coventry’s superiority in the first half.
Wharfedale gave a much better account of themselves in the second period and with a try a piece they just edged the scoring as a result of a superb touch line conversion from Lloyd Davies after a try from Maxime Labasse.
The home side finished the scoring with an unconverted try from Devlin Hope after another catch and drive by the Coventry forwards.
Wharfedale’s problems in the first half were not just of their own making. Errors abounded but it was Coventry’s more clinical approach which was the main difference. Coventry Chairman, John Sharp, was proud of his side’s efforts in the first 40 and highlighted the fact that they had not made one mistake and their ball retention and use of possession was outstanding.
In the set piece, Dale managed. The scrum creaked in the first half but Rob Baldwin was generally able to tidy up. In the second half the Green Machine started to get the upper hand and at one stage a push over try looked on only for the ball to squirt out and be lost.
To say that the line out was disappointing would be harsh as Dale took 73% of their own ball. Coventry just edged this battle with 82%.
The Blue and Whites were intimidating in the opening exchanges and their line speed contributed to Dale’s preponderance to spill the ball. Having won possession they were very efficient in turning defence into attack and stretching the Yorkshire side’s defence and creating space for their strong running centres. Rob Baldwin confronted the intimidation and earned a yellow card, along with Coventry’s Samuel Pailor, just before half time.
Coventry picked up another yellow in the second half although it was unclear why and indeed many thought different players could have been yellow carded. Dominic Lespierre went to the bin. The whistle blower was unclear with some of his signalling.
Wharfedale captain, James Doherty, reflected “Some may say it was always going to be expected but we went believing we could win. We have worked very hard at certain aspects of our game and there were times during the game when Coventry were under lots of pressure, however we struggled to sustain that pressure. We probably left 3 or 4 other chances to score out on the field. With a higher level of control and accuracy we will be a dangerous side. We defended for 35 minutes of the first half and the score reflected that. They were big, physical and ruthlessly clinical at times and will probably be up in the mix come the end of the season.
As for us we move onto next week, this is no time for licking wounds, this is the time to work hard during the week, keeping focused on what we do well and playing the game how we want to play it and look forward to a packed Avenue against Esher.”
There were positives to take back up the M1 to the Dales. There were plenty of occasions of good individual play and strong breaks were made. With more support available at crucial moments Wharfedale could have reaped a bagful of tries in the second half. Chances however were not taken but Dale did enough to daunt the ambition of Coventry in the second half and silence the crowd and even earn respect. This is not to say that all players worked hard throughout – they did give maximum effort for the full 80 but the mistakes nullified their heroics and handed Coventry chances to show their paces.
Head Coach, Tom McGee, added “It was a tough game, particularly the 1st half, which we anticipated through the week in our preparations. Coventry have a lot of firepower and pace which they hit us with on the back of our execution. We’ve got a good honest group and we look at ourselves. The scoreboard reflected how we started. We weren’t as accurate as we needed to be in the set pieces, building phase pressure or positional pressure, mainly through our errors which led to us being camped in our half, on the back foot, for most of the first 40 minutes. We actually defended in a really tough manner for large parts, there was no lack of attitude or commitment from the guys – we just need to be better in our starts, building our game early as we have some real quality in the squad, it needs a chance to shine.
The Coventry try just before half time was disappointing as it was a situation we were in control of, potentially we could have gone in at 29-7, which is a mountain to climb but for us isn’t insurmountable, I believe this team has the ability to score quick tries if given the right platforms and situations.
The second half was certainly better. Our set pieces improved, for large parts we stressed Coventry with our game speed and field position. From a positive perspective we left 4 clear scoring opportunities out there, our energy was good throughout.
What we take from this game is that if we control our parts well, get our game moving we are a dangerous team. I fully expect the guys to be revved up looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd this week v Esher”.
Wharfedale: – Steel (Beesley 54), Larkin (Stockdale 49), Beesley (Wade 24), Howard (Mason 49), Willet (Howard 70), Hedgley, Burridge, Baldwin; Doherty (c), Guy (Bell 54); Cicognini, Morgan, Hudson, Labasse, Bullough ( Davies 52)
A selection of photographs appears under the Photos tab.