The driving rain of a wet London day eased in time for kick off and left the artificial turf glistening in the afternoon light. It was Wharfedale that lit up the first half and were leading at half time.
Jamie Guy put the visitors on the scoreboard with a 32 metre penalty. Despite good pressure from Dale it was their mistakes and lost line outs that let Rosslyn into the game. Park’s try after 26 minutes showed the young northerners how to control the ball, build through the phases, be patient, draw in the defence and score. From a line out on their 10 metre line Park went through 12 phases before Adam Frampton touched down. Tom Whiteley forced over a tricky conversion into the wind from 2 metres in from touch.
Dale then soon forced their way into Park’s 22. They won a scrum 6 metres out and a mini break from Cameron Hudson saw him deliver an inside ball to the Man of the Match, Huw Morgan, to cross under the posts. Jamie Guy made no mistake from the tee. Half time 7-10
Dale had cut down drastically on the mistake count during the first half. The scrum was OK, and the tackling was solid. Only the lineout left more cause for concern. There was optimism from the travelling faithful that a cracking result was on the cards. The roller coaster ride of the previous weeks continued however as Dale contributed to their own downfall.
Mistakes at the start of the second half led to a yellow card to Harry Skelton and two tries for Park. The first mistake was to spill the ball virtually straight from kick off in Dale’s own 22. Park attacked the line and 10 phases ended with the relief of a penalty to Wharfedale. A chance to send the ball out of the 22 and breathe again. No, the penalty kick failed to find touch and Dale were desperately defending their line again leading to a penalty to Park and Skelton’s yellow.
After an efficiently executed catch and drive Hugo Ellis was awarded the try and Whiteley added the conversion.
Wharfedale’s restart was fielded by Park and sent back with interest and Dale found themselves back in their own 22. A knock on in the line gave Rosslyn a scrum. Quick ball was taken and given to Saracens scrum half Tom Whiteley who superbly sidestepped for an unconverted try. A superb piece of skill that left the defence off balance.
Seven minutes into the second half and the dreams from the first half seemed as far away as the Yorkshire Dales.
The Green Machine battled to get back into the match but a forward pass and a dropped pass halted the fight back. Then the strong tackling, which had been virtually faultless all afternoon, suddenly gave way and led to Park’s fourth converted try from Adam Field.
Wharfedale still battled on and a break from Matt van Sertima was followed up by Harry Skelton who sprinted home to beat the cover. Cameron Hudson had a go from the tee but his attempt was blown off course by a mighty gust of wind.
This was another frustrating trip to the capital. The first half, still with mistakes and a poor line out, showed what Dale were capable of, but a team cannot carry on surrendering the ball in important parts of the pitch and expect to get winning results. Park were not without fault themselves but their mistake count was much less and they won good ball at both set pieces. This Wharfedale team is good, it has skilful players, it can play some superb rugby, and it is capable of competing with any team in the league and beating them.
Head Coach, Tom McGee, commented “Frustration was the underlying emotion after the game. We felt there was an opportunity for us to get the win, and after 40 mins the game was definitely there to be won, but we didn’t take it. We played OK in the 1st half, created and got points on the board. Overall apart from a couple of individual drop offs we defended well. However our line out and kicking game throughout was a problem which limited us from playing good rugby on a good track in good positions.
We went in 10-7 up at half time with messages that were positive to continue with our game plan, back ourselves to keep playing with the ball and toughing it out on defence.
We couldn’t have got a worse start to the second half when unforced errors, lapses in concentration and slack kicking allowed Rosslyn to heap pressure onto us. Even in the last 10 minutes with a score line of 26-15 I felt if we were accurate and moved the ball we could have got ourselves right back into it.
The disappointment from this is that it was a self inflicted defeat. We back our guys to play but our accuracy and concentration wasn’t where it needed to be in the second half. The guys know that and spoke passionately after the game. We’ll look for a positive response this week leading into Loughborough.”
Wharfedale – Bullough; Prell, Hudson, Morgan, van Sertima; Guy (Fewtrell 61), Skelton; Altham (Cano 66), Stockdale, Wade (Steel 48), Willet (Whyte 62), Hedgley, Burridge (c), Howick (Myers 66), Baldwin.
A selection of photographs is available under the Photos tab near the top of this page,