A hard fought afternoon of rugby played in a good spirit with both sides committed to moving the ball about ended with Fylde sneaking the win in the dying minutes. Dale had the better of the first half and went in leading 0-12 at half time. Fylde made changes early in the second half and brought on strong players off the bench. Dale defended the line but eventually they were worn down and conceded two tries in the last five minutes.
Wharfedale’s intent to play open rugby was clear from the very start and this led to an extended period of play in Fylde’s 22. Fylde lost Mark Goodman to a yellow card after 11 minutes for repeated technical offences and Oli Cicognini ended a period of sustained Wharfedale pressure with a well taken try a minute later. Jamie Guy’s conversion meant that he has now kicked a conversion in each of the last twelve games.
The visitors created more opportunities in the first half but could not find the final pass to get to the line. At the end of the half more pressure led to Cameron Hudson crossing just before the interval, but Guy hit the post with the attempted conversion.
Fylde had early chances in the second half but poor handling and resolute defence kept them at bay. Dale ran everything that they could get hold of, and good runs from Maxime Labasse and Josh Prell took play deep into Fylde’s 22. Fylde cleared and then Dale’s crooked lineout gave the home side a platform to attack. Dale’s defence seemed to take a nap as they surrendered ground to the Fylde’s backs and also gave them space to run round the cover to let Anthony Bingham score an unconverted try 17 minutes into the second half.
Back came Dale, and runs from Matt Beesley, Labasse and Cicognini forced the seasiders back and surrender a penalty which Guy slotted from 30 metres to give Dale a ten point cushion.
With the clock counting down it was Fylde who mounted attack after attack and eventually the Green Machine broke. Dale could have made more use of the ball when they had it but they only had it briefly; other teams have tucked the ball up their shirts but this is not Dale’s method.
Fylde won a ball against the head in Dale’s half and mounted a huge offensive. Robert Stewart crashed over under the posts and Scott Rawlings slotted the extras to give Fylde a chance of an unlikely win.
From the kick off Cameron Hudson’s attempted interception was greeted with a yellow card on half way. From the resulting kick to touch Fylde won the line out and seven phases later Oliver Brennand touched down to take Fylde into the lead. Scott Rawlings sealed the win with the extra two points.
After the game, a disappointed Jon Feeley, Wharfedale’s coach, reflected “If ever there was an unjust result, this was it. Leading 12-0 at half-time was a fantastic position which we fully deserved with the rugby we had played. In the second we matched that again with some superb defence and great attacking play into a strong wind which had come in. The referee’s interpretation however changed significantly. I felt we were the one’s trying to play positively, Mr. Roberts however penalized us heavily and I did not feel this was warranted. The missed obstructions which led to the winning try were particularly disappointing as our efforts certainly deserved better. However, I do not want this to take away from how well we performed in difficult circumstances. After the emotionally difficult last week, the manner in which we performed restored some pride. With a number of late changes, it was significant test of our mental resilience against a fast-attacking Fylde team on a firm track, but we rose to the challenge. I thought Dan and Alistair were superb in the back-row, with Cameron and Beesley consistently causing problems with their carrying. It’s just a shame the season is ending next week as this team are really starting to develop their try-scoring ability. But we will approach Coventry with the same attitude.”
It was a game that Dale deserved to win, and the Green Machine need to be heartily congratulated for their approach to the last few games of the season. They were greeted on to the pitch and exited to a roar from the travelling faithful. The home fans were generous in their comments and realized that their team had stolen one.
Labasse; Prell, Hodgson, Hudson (H. Bullough 68), Cicognini; Guy, Woodhead; Beesley (Cano 70), Poole (Stockdale 76), Cano (Altham 29), Preston-Routledge (Powell 18), Hedgley, Allen, Solomi, Burridge (c).
Replacement not used J. Bullough