A scrappy affair with some good moments of rugby was edged by Cinderford to give them their first win of the season. The Cinderford pack was better at both set pieces and this allowed Callum Sheedy to control the game from stand off.
Sheedy opened the scoring with a penalty, before quick thinking from James Doherty from a tapped penalty put in Huw Morgan for Dale to edge ahead. A drop goal from Sheedy gave Cinderford the lead which was extended with a try by Sam Hanks which Sheedy converted. Half time 5-13
An unconverted try a piece opened the second half, George Hedgley for Wharfedale and Robert Winchle for Cinderford.
Dale gained a slender lead after unconverted tries from Cameron Hudson and Josh Burridge. The visitors then went ahead with a converted try by Davy McGregor to which Sheedy added a penalty.
A resurgent Dale reduced the lead to one point with a flowing move finished off by Hudson to which Jamie Guy added the extras.
Dale desperately ran the ball from their own line looking to win but a mistake in the centre allowed Samuel Hanks in for a bonus point try to Cinderford. Wharfedale had the consolation of two bonus points as Sheedy missed a fairly easy conversion.
Where did the magic go from the win away at Blaydon? The technical problems at the line out were a shock after the excellent work in the north east. The scrum again creaked and only gained the upper hand when Joe Altham was introduced just before half time. There was a lack of urgency in some of the Green Machine. There were moments of open sweeping rugby but there were mistakes as well. The backs were starved of genuine ball to play with and show their paces. Too often they were running from a disorganised defence often put on the back foot by accurate kicking from hand by Cinderford fly half Callum Sheedy.
There were some great moments from Wharfedale. The third try saw a surging run from birthday boy Chris Steel. The break was continued by Max Wright before Cameron Hudson crossed the line. The try in the 77th minute which should have set the scene for another fairy tale ending was even better. Wharfedale won a scrappy period on their own 22 and after throwing the ball across the line in more hope than accuracy the ball was taken by Dan Tai. The young speedster was off like a rocket and this time the support was there. Doherty was on hand to carry the move forward before getting the ball to Hudson to score yet another try.
Cinderford played a tight game rarely putting the ball wide, but it was effective. Dale relied on moments of quick thinking and individual flair. This was not a whole team performance. Individual performances can never replace the 20 man game that we have seen in the past.
The visitors got the basics right, slowed the game down when they needed to, got on the right side of the officials and, I feel ashamed to say this, seemed to want to win more than the Greens. One moment that summed up their desire was their third try which took them back into the lead. A catch and drive from Dale’s 22 was watched by too many Wharfedale players on the fringes whilst the Cinderford forwards drove on and on, with their backs joining in to make it a ten man maul, and a fairly easy score!
Coach, Tom McGee, reflected “I’m disappointed that we didn’t put in the performance we wanted to or are capable of. Also that we lost our 2nd home game of the season in front of our supporters.
It’s a game we could have won, but realistically didn’t deserve to – we had an opportunity to nail a play we use frequently but like the 79 minutes previous we made too many errors, from set piece to loose carries, slow into ruck, uncontrolled offloads.
We were put in a position where we were chasing the game on the scoreboard throughout and we’ve got to change that aspect pretty quick and turn that around. That stems from being more ruthless and consistent in our starts and set pieces in games.
I’ll not move or waiver in my confidence and belief in the group. We need to improve, tighten up on our individual core skills, whether that’s throwing, scrummaging, kicking or catching.
As coaches we’ll back these young guys 100%, like in all sports – team or individual you’ve got back yourself, put the time and effort in on your individual game to be the best you can be. I feel we’ve got some progress to make mentally in order for us to become a consistently good side.”
James Doherty, the Club Captain, added “Scoring 5 tries at home you would normally come out on the right side of the result. However unfortunately for us they were only fleeting moments of good play surrounded by far too much inaccuracy. We all know that the Avenue has been a fortress in previous years and this year has not got going, we have had a mixed start to the season to say the least but only through hard work will we turn the corner.
I can assure you all we will be working hard to fix our problems and try to put some consistent performances together.”
Wharfedale: – Steel, Stockdale (Poole 68), Beesley (Altham 37), Willet, Mason (Howard 41, Beesley 70), Hedgley, Burridge, Baldwin; Doherty (c), Guy; Tai, Morgan, Hudson, Cicognini, Labasse (Wright 45)
A selection of photographs is available under the Photos tab.