On a heavy pitch it was Park who used the conditions better in the second half to produce a splendid away win.
After a scrappy start a break from Dale’s scrum half, Philip Woodhead, took play deep into Park’s 22. The defence gave away a penalty and Jamie Guy slotted to open Dale’s account. Guy’s second penalty attempt soon followed but the wind just caught the ball at the last moment and it drifted past the upright on the wrong side. After 13 minutes Park levelled the score with a Scott Sneddon penalty.
Dale then struggled with the elements. Two chances to go deep were spurned with poor kicking and the Green machine stuttered to find cohesion. Scott Sneddon’s kicking into the wind gave the visitors territorial advantage and a promising attacking position. Dale defended well during this period and George Hedgley ended the period with a superb turnover. He then led a break out and Harry Bullough took the ball forward into Park’s half. The move however stalled and a scoring opportunity was gone.
Dale pressed again and for once had the better of a kicking exchange and a line out just in the visitor’s 22. Hedgley won the line out and the pack took over and a superb drive ended with a Chris Howick try. Guy’s conversion again just edged past the post on the wrong side.
Another super kick from Guy earned Dale a line out outside Park’s 22. Cleanly taken ball was then driven home at a canter from 30 metres out; again Howick was awarded the try. Guy’s conversion stretched Dale’s advantage to 12 points.
Wharfedale went in with a deserved 15-3 lead at half time but had to face the wind and the slope in the second half.
Scott Sneddon, Rosslyn Park’s no 10, gave a kicking display in the second half that gave the visitors a massive territorial advantage. Wharfedale struggled to gain territory and when they did advance up to Park’s 22 Sneddon, on more than one occasion, sent them back to defend a 5 metre line out!
Both sides earned a yellow card in the second half but the southerners made light of their loss and continued to progress their score.
Sneddon’s field kicking was matched by his 100% place kicking. A successful penalty kick after four minutes was soon followed by a penalty try to which Sneddon added the extras. The penalty try was awarded after the referee had urged Wharfedale to not infringe whilst defending their line. On three occasions warnings were given and a lack of self-control meant 7 points given away and a yellow card for Matt Beesley.
Another try looked on the cards as Park gained a line out only 8 metres out. Hedgley stole the line out and Dale cleared. Sneddon drove them back to their own line with a well placed kick. Again the Green Machine worked to get out of their 22 and the pack drove onwards and onwards. They were only stopped by cynical play from Park’s Harry Elrington which was greeted with a yellow card from the ref.
Dale came close to scoring when a clearance was charged down. After consultation with his assistant a 22 drop out was awarded to Rosslyn. Two minutes later Sneddon again sent a soul destroying kick which rolled into touch 5 metres from Dale’s line.
Sneddon then showed all round ability by taking a bad pass, and with the defence flying into his face he put in a deft grubber kick which he collected himself to score. The two points followed. Hugo Ellis rounded off the scoring for Park with a converted try from a catch and drive.
The match ended with two more attacking line outs from the London side which Dale defended superbly with Dale desperately trying to run the ball in the mud.
Andy Holloway, Coach at Rosslyn Park, said after the match “The input from Harry Elrington in the second half built on the pack’s work in the first half, but the field kicking from Scott Sneddon meant that we had a massive territorial advantage. Hats off to Wharfedale and their driving maul. We knew we had to keep them away from our line and we did this effectively in the second half”
Returning Head Coach, John Feeley, commented “Although we knew we had left opportunities out on the pitch, at half-time we came in with a lead and were confident of taking the result. Our discipline had been really good and there was no lack of effort. Our defensive work was also excellent. However, in the second period Rosslyn Park’s clinical kicking and strong scrum exposed our naivety when trying to get out of our own half. Their return when using the conditions was better. Our discipline was not at a level we can accept and this gifted them field position. We have two weeks in which to learn the lessons from today and focus on the win. There are some terrific players with great potential in this squad. Now is the time to realise that potential.”
Wharfedale H. Bullough; Van Sertima (Cano 52), Hudson, Fewtrell, Tai; Guy, Woodhead (J. Bullough 74); Cano (Beesley 28), Poole, Steel (Wade 41, Beesley 58), Willet (Powell 28), Hedgley, Barnard, Howick (Graham 69), Baldwin (c)