Never mind the score; this was a much better performance from the Greens. The scrum competed at a much higher level and the line out was near perfect. The 1st half was a tight affair with Henley leading 12-10 at half time. David Clements had barrelled over and after a long consultation with the touch judge a try was awarded. James Comben kicked the first of many difficult conversions. Jamie Guy finished off an excellent Wharfedale move and brought the scores level from the tee. Henley’s Tom Hall was driven over after 24 minutes to take the lead but Comben missed his only kick of the day. Jamie Guy made no mistake with a penalty.
Henley stretched away after half time with two penalties from Comben, Guy replied with one for Dale.
A closely fought match was changed with the introduction of James Davies, in his first game for Henley, whose pace was too hot for the Green defence. Henley added three more converted tries to make the score look lopsided. Simon Perry and Connor Murphy crossed before Davies showed his class by blitzing through the visitor’s defence after receiving the ball in his own half.
Despite a long delay caused by a serious injury to Adam Howard, during the pre-match warm up, Wharfedale made a strong start. Head Coach, Tom McGee, said “we wish Adam Howard the best and a quick recovery after a horrible injury to his ankle in the pre-match warm up. I really feel for Adam as he was desperate for a big performance and to kick his season on, as much as I tried to keep the squad from getting distracted it definitely had an impact on a few of the players”
The opening scrum was won by Dale and the drive resulted in a kickable penalty to the visitors. This however was taken quickly and then lost and cleared by Henley. A successful line out was carried forward by Rob Baldwin and two phases later Wharfedale were again penalised. Jamie Guy missed a penalty and a couple of errors later found themselves defending a line out 8 metres from their own line which led to Henley’s first score.
Wharfedale’s response came 6 minutes later with a move reminiscent of the display at Blaydon. Ali Wade broke tackles in midfield and off loaded to Huw Morgan. Morgan’s grubber was collected by Maxime Labasse who set up Jamie Guy for a superb try.
Dale continued to build but having got up to Henley’s 22 managed to concede three penalties which again saw them defending their own line. Another catch and drive by Henley was initially driven back by Dale. Henley gained the necessary momentum to score.
Guy and Comben had two penalties each and the game was a close affair until the introduction of speedster James Davies by Henley.
Wharfedale skipper, Josh Burridge, commented that it had been a frustrating afternoon. It was hard to lose Adam Howard in the warm up and wished him a speedy recovery. He went on to say that it had been “frustrating in the fact that this week our set piece functioned pretty well but we let ourselves down in other aspects, particularly the breakdown and organizations from phase play. We will have a big training week and work on the things that let us down at the weekend, which will put us in a good place to tackle DMP.”
Commenting on the game McGee added “We had a promising start to the game with our set pieces working well. Unfortunately and disappointingly the breakdown was a mess throughout and poorly officiated which disrupted our flow and ability to generate any rhythm. An early injury to Cameron Hudson was a setback as our centres have been strong at the start of this season.
With the score at 12-10 at half time we were in the game. The players were confident and had a bounce about them. Ultimately we couldn’t get a grip or control of the second through the contact area and opportunities we didn’t take.
We made progress in our set pieces which is good. It’s tying all the small parts together which is our challenge. We need to be decisive in our play. I thought we could have been more positive and backed ourselves to move the ball that extra pass, something I’ll be pressing home to the squad this week.
The focus now is to ensure we have a top training week and get our 1st home win for ourselves and our supporters”.
Wharfedale: – Altham, Larkin (Stockdale 63), Wade (Beesley 67), Mason, Willet, Hedgley, Burridge (c), Baldwin; Skelton, Guy; Tai, Morgan, Hudson (Fewtrell 20), Labasse (Druce 61), Wright. Replacement not used A. Hodgson
A selection of photographs is available under the Photos tab.