Wharfedale 0 – 45 Hartpury College

If Dale were taught a lesson by Loughborough Students last week then the students from Gloucestershire hammered the message home on a cold day in North Yorkshire.

Dale competed well in the first half and were in contention turning round, to have the slope in their favour and, only trailing by 12 points.

The home support’s optimism soon dwindled as the students went up through the gears and began to show why they are top of the table.

Wharfedale’s mistakes were again costly. A promising attack from half way broke down after a wild pass and ended with desperate defence and a five metre scrum from Hartpury. A good shove held in the defence and scrum half, Benjamin Vellacott, nipped over to open the scoring in the right hand corner. Lloyd Evans missed the conversion.

Wharfedale gave a good account of themselves and looked to be hanging on until halftime.

After 25 minutes Dale seemed to be building pressure on the visitor`s line, and having secured a line out in the opposition’s 22 went through 15 phases before giving away a penalty and seeing Hartpury escape out of their 22.

A few minutes later the referee decided that a Hartpury rolling maul had been pulled down and awarded a penalty try. Evans added the two points to go in at oranges 12 points ahead.

Things started poorly for the Yorkshiremen in the second half. From the kick off Hartpury’s clearance kick was allowed to bounce into touch. Two poor line outs followed and a penalty was given away and Hartpury had a lineout only 8 metres out. Five phases later Man of the Match, Jake Polledri, crashed through a tiring defence to score.

The visitor’s next try came from more mistakes in attack by the Dalesmen. A kick was taken by winger Jonas Mikalcuis who, not for the only time in the afternoon, returned the ball with interest. Gloucester scrum half, Benjamin Vellacott, who on Tuesday night played for Gloucester against a Barbarians side packed with star internationals, took over and raced up to the line. More disciplined phases led to space for a try from Steven Leonard. Lloyd Evans, another Gloucester player from Tuesday night, missed the extras. The only one out of five that he missed in the second half.

Again Wharfedale tried to get going with runs from Oliver Fewtrell, Josh Burridge and Alex Powell but the attack ended in frustration with another penalty to Hartpury.

From the resulting lineout a combination of good forward play, quick handling from the backs and somewhat lacklustre tackling saw Vellacott cross the whitewash.

Another break from Mikalcuis and scrappy play in their own 22 gave the students a 5 metre attacking scrum. A good drive by Hartpury was rewarded by the ref going under the posts for a second penalty try.

Two yellow cards were awarded in the last 10 minutes, one for either side. Josh Prell for Wharfedale, after 70 minutes, and Alfie Barrow for Hartpury after 75.

Wharfedale refused to give up and mounted a series of attacks only to end up back in their own 22 defending their own line. The Hartpury scrum was strong enough to hold the defence and for George Evans to pick up and, almost stroll, over the line to finish the rout.

Coach Tom McGee commented: –

“We’re bitterly disappointed with both the performance & the score. To not score anything at home is unacceptable. We asked for a real true Wharfedale spirited effort which was there in small patches but not for long enough. There’s only so long you can keep defending against good sides until you’re duly punished, & credit to Hartpury they made us pay.

I’m not going to grasp out positives to try & put a spin on it because it would be disingenuous to the club & our supporters.

We have to improve in the fundamental parts of the game e.g. catching at top speed, pass accuracy, set piece line out, kick chase and 1st up tackling to compete at this level.

We’re not threatening with a high enough attack tempo, game speed or urgency to really challenge teams & defences. We’ll be looking at that in detail this week.

There will be some changes this week, both in our game approach & in selection. As coaches, senior players & management we’ve shown trust & patience with the guys selected over the last 4 weeks but it’s not quite happening, so we’ll mix it up to see if we can get a positive response.

I’d like to thank the supporters for their continued support & patience, I know it’s not been easy of late, but I can guarantee & ensure you that no stone will be left un-turned to get the team right, moving forward & up the table.”

Wharfedale: –

Bullough (Sertima 54), Prell, Hudson, Morgan, Fewtrell; Guy, Skelton; Altham (Beesley 57), Stockdale (Graham 50), Steel (Wade 50), Willet, Powell, Hedgley, Howick (Allen 51, Stockdale 61), Burridge (c).

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