A feisty first half saw Henley go in at half time just in the lead. Yellow Cards could have flowed as the handbags were flying but only Rob Baldwin saw yellow for a foul tackle off the ball. The second half was much calmer so hats off to the officials.
Dale’s pressure in the second half led to Henley spending the last 13 minutes with reduced ranks as first Charles Davey on 67 minutes and then Simon Perry on 72 minutes were sent to the sin bin.
Both sides were guilty of squandering possession in the opening exchanges. A strong break by Charles Davey was followed up by Henley and saw Thomas Bliss crossing the whitewash to open the scoring. Liam O’Neill converted.
Sloppy play from Henley gave Jamie Guy a shot at goal from 24 metres which he slotted with ease.
With Wharfedale unable to control the ball through the phases it was Henley making fewer mistakes who had the upper hand. Thomas Hall crossed for Henley and O’Neill added the extras to extend the visitor`s lead.
Without Baldwin on the field Dale played with more intensity, and the tackling, which was poor and had a hand in Henley’s tries, improved and Henley could not capitalise on the man advantage.
When Baldwin returned to the fray it was Wharfedale who swept forward, and as the half closed, took the ball up to Henley’s line. Following a lost ball it seemed that the scoring opportunity had been missed but…..Henley’s relieving clearance was charged down by an alert Jordon Poole who then scooped the ball up to score. Jamie Guy’s touchline conversion gave the Greens and the crowd a lift on the stroke of half time.
The Green Machine played more assured rugby in the second half. There were still mistakes but control of possession and territory improved.
Wharfedale’s kick off was gathered by Henley who went through ten phases trying to get out of their own 22. The Green line was unmovable and eventually Henley kicked, but Dale had a line out on the Hawk’s 22. An excellent catch and drive was just held up and desperate defence from the southerners kept Wharfedale out. Wharfedale took three points on offer through the boot of Jamie Guy. A meagre reward for such pressure but Henley were under pressure.
Dale attacked again from the restart and Henley again tried to move the ball. This time they reached their 10 metre line before Wharfedale forced a turnover.
Sensing space and a disorganised defence Cameron Hudson ran the ball and with a combination of breaking tackles and good feet broke into Henley’s 22. James Doherty carried the attack up to the try line and it was Hudson himself who then scored. Again Guy added the extra two points to give Dale a six point lead.
On a rare excursion into Dale’s half Henley narrowed the gap with a penalty from O’Neill.
Wharfedale ended the game strongly. Two more penalties were landed by Jamie Guy to round off the scoring which meant a crucial 9 point lead. Henley never gave up and tried and tried to break through, even when reduced in numbers but to no avail.
It was a deserved win for the home side which takes them just clear of the relegation zone. Chris Howick, Jamie Guy, Jordon Poole and Cameron Hudson all had outstanding games but Howick’s nomination as Star Man was widely applauded. Jamie Guy had his most assured match in a green shirt this season. He was secure, and his kicking from hand in general play, and when kicking to touch, was very good.
Wharfedale Head Coach, Tom McGee, said after the Match “I was pleased overall with our performance especially our response in the second half. In the first half we had been loose with our carries which led to lack of possession. The pressure we exerted in the second half eventually told but credit to the Henley boys for the way they tried to move the ball.
We were more positive and direct in the second half and this, coupled with an improvement in our set piece, meant that we could control possession and territory.
We are happy that we have got 7 points from two games and we will stay positive in training and be looking for 5 points next week”
Wharfedale Guy; Fewtrell (Doherty 30), Morgan (Hudson 10), Bullough, Prell; Bell (Fewtrell 54), Woodhead; Steel (Altham 50), Graham (Poole 30), Cano (Beesley 59), Hedgley, Powell, Burridge (c), Howick, Baldwin