Loughborough Students played a more mature brand of rugby in the second half to enable them to leave Wharfedale trailing in the league by six points. Dale deserved a lead at half time but allowing the students two soft tries meant that the lead was only slender and would be hard to defend going up the slope.
The first soft try came after four minutes when Dale handed them the ball only metres from their own line. Josh Sharpe whipped over the line to score. A simple conversion from Sharpe followed.
Dale squandered chances in attack with handling errors before forcing a turnover in ‘Borough’s 22. Dale drew level with a rolling maul that was set up in midfield with Josh Burridge awarded the score. Jamie Guy added the extras. Sharpe then added a penalty kick.
Jamie Guy’s restart was returned with interest by Matt Rogerson who charged through tackles up to half way before being tackled by Philip Woodhead. A grubber into Wharfedale’s 22 went into touch off a Wharfedale player and gave Loughborough an attacking platform. A catch and drive dragged in the Dale defence before Sharpe avoided being tackled and split the defence open to score his second try. His conversion gave the students a 17-7 lead.
A bit of luck came Wharfedale’s way and Dan Tai was fed the ball with a little bit of space. Using his speed and strength he got within 5 metres and forced a penalty which also saw a yellow card for Loughborough’s George Eastwell.
Wharfedale finished the first half strongly and their pack drove over for two more tries by firstly Rob Baldwin and then by Steve Graham, both converted by Jamie Guy, to see them in for a brew leading 21-17. It should have been a bigger lead but even in this period three handling errors and a failed 5 metre line out allowed the visitors time to regroup.
Dale defended for most of the second half and eventually were broken. A penalty from Sharpe was followed by two unconverted tries from Paolo Odogwu and George Davis.
Six more handling errors in the second half, bringing the total to fourteen for the match, meant that the Green Machine’s attempts to establish field position were fruitless and added to their defensive effort. Loughborough only knocked on twice and one of them was deliberate to disrupt a Dale move.
Loughborough gained more control of the scrum in the second period and good touch kicking and an effective line out meant they had control of the ball and control of territory. Dale’s rolling maul worked well but they found it hard to get into the right field position to use it. Both teams should be credited for trying to play good rugby on a heavy pitch and with a wet and muddy ball. There were short periods in the second half when players took to the skies to avoid ploughing through the mud. On one occasion eight kicks were exchanged without much benefit to anybody apart from exercising the neck muscles of the crowd.
A moderately encouraging note on a gloomy day was the Wharfedale line out which had an 89% success rate although it was not as good as the visitors 100%. Dale tried to move the ball, they tried to play rugby, they tried and tried but on many occasions found the Students in no mood to give ground.
Wharfedale H. Bullough; van Sertima, Hudson, Fewtrell, Tai (J. Bullough 71); Guy, Woodhead; Beesley (Cano 65), Graham, Steel (Wade 46), Hedgley, Willet, Burridge, Barnard (Powell 79), Baldwin (c).
Replacement not used Joe Altham.
A selection of photographs is available under the Photos tab.