For the first twenty minutes of the game it looked as if Wharfedale were going to carry on the form they had shown in the last two weeks.
The visitors opened strongly and a mistake from the kick-off gave Dale the chance to go for the corner. Plymouth had done their homework and defended well and a knock on allowed the home side a chance to clear. This they did and back came Dale with Phil Woodhead leading the charge. Again Albion cleared and a searing kick from Billy Searle sent Dale back into their own half. Two attacks and no points.
Eight phases from the line out and another penalty to the visitors. This time Jamie Guy kicked the penalty to put Dale on the scoreboard. Matthew Shepherd replied with three points when Plymouth strayed into Wharfedale territory after 12 minutes.
Dale continued to press and from an attacking line out on Albion’s 22 a good drive led to Phil Woodhead nipping through the defence to score. Guy added the conversion.
Again Plymouth were given an easy penalty chance and Shepherd took it to close the gap. This summed up the first half, if not the game. Dale mounting attack after attack and only scoring twice; Albion attacking and scoring on every visit into Dale’s 22!
The heavier Albion forwards battered Dale’s line and eventually prop Christian Judge crashed over. With Shepherd again accurate from the tee the home side now led 13-10.
Dale were still in touch but lost another three points when a tackle by Cameron Hudson was penalised and for Shepherd to call for the plastic again. Albion were growing in confidence and a sweeping move nearly led to a score. Dale’s defence however was stretched and Albion spun the ball wide to the left and Thomas Putt had an easy score. Shepherd’s conversion left the score 23-10 at halftime.
Albion survived with 14 men at the end of the first half and into the second when Gregory Sebastian was shown yellow for a high tackle. They also had James Penman sin binned for the last ten minutes of the second half for foul play. Wharfedale could not however take advantage of the man advantage.
A battling Wharfedale never really fired in the second half but made Plymouth work hard for the only score of the second half, a converted try from Thomas Bedford.
Wharfedale did finish strongly and dominated possession and territory in the last 15 minutes but they could not cross the try line. Strong runs from Dan Solomi, Cameron Hudson, Oliver Cicognini and Rob Baldwin all heaped pressure on Plymouth but no points! The best chance was a break from Woodhead which only just failed when the off load could not be taken cleanly.
There were again some strong performances and none stronger than Phil Woodhead. A second Star Man award in the Rugby Paper should have been awarded to “Woody” as he was the outstanding player on the pitch. Fully committed, tackling anything that moved, making decisions, launching attack after attack and snapping at the defence all afternoon. Oliver Cicognini showed he had not lost his speed and strength on his return to first team duties after a long road to full fitness. Dan Solomi showed glimpses of his old self and the second row pairing of George Hedgley and Daniel Preston-Routledge continued to show promise. The back row worked tirelessly and worked wonders at the breakdown against much heavier opposition.
A selection of photographs is available under the Fixtures tab.
Wharfedale H. Bullough (Burridge 53); Prell, Hodgson, Hudson, Cicognini: Guy, Woodhead (J. Bullough 75); Beesley (Altham 24, Beesley 62), Graham (Stockdale 40), Cano (Wade 24, Cano 62), Preston-Routledge, Hedgley, Burridge (Solomi 50), Barnard, Baldwin (c).