Wharfedale played their last warm up game entertaining a modest crowd and giving chances to new and old players. The most promising aspect from the game was that six of Dale’s tries were scored by the backs. The forwards did their share of the work but the speed, handling and support play of the back division was highly creditable.
The first try after 4 minutes was created by the forwards taking the ball at a Tynedale line out. Cameron Hudson and James Doherty combined to get very close before Hudson finished by forcing his way over. Jamie Guy converted.
Doherty took a quick penalty to grab the Green’s second try after strong running from the forwards forced a penalty. Extras from Jamie Guy made the score 14-0 after 10 minutes.
The third was vintage Wharfedale. Harry Bullough, getting a chance to start at fullback, showing a few touches of brilliance combined with a safe pair of hands, started a break deep in Dale territory. Oliver Cicognini followed on before off loading to skipper Doherty to go under the posts. Jamie Guy added the two.
Forwards and backs again worked in harmony late in the first half. The forwards forced a turnover and the ball was given to Bullough. Another searing, defence shattering break was followed with support from Doherty and Huw Morgan before Maxime Labasse crossed for a scintillating score.
Tynedale did get on the board before half time with Graeme Dunne crossing. This was the result of good play by the visitors but also mistakes from Dale. First mistake was to allow Tynedale to take their own restart. This was exacerbated by sloppy defence allowing Graham Dunn room to score. The defence had been tested earlier in the half when Tynedale mounted concerted pressure on Wharfedale’s line. The Green line held, even after Rob Baldwin took a team yellow card.
The wow factor of the first half was when Cicognini fielded a high clearance kick from Tynedale. He ran in from distance, soared into the air like a springbok, claimed the ball and his momentum set up another promising attack.
The second half saw more expansive rugby from Dale, and the changes rung so that many players got their chance to shine on the bigger stage. The pack started to dominate the set piece resulting in more Dale possession. New props, Ali Wade and Ricky Cano, showing great promise in the scrum and contributing around the park as well.
The second half tempo was as good as the first. The forwards forced more turnover ball and then Bullough and Morgan combined to sweep the play into opposition territory before Labasse was held and the ball lost. The Tynedale scrum was pushed off the ball and the Dale forwards took over giving a score to Simon Willet.
Missed tackles in midfield and out wide let Joe McKenzie in for a simple try and with Rob Parker slotting the extras the score was now 31-14.
French flair came in the next Dale score. Tynedale passed into touch just in Wharfedale’s half. Before anyone noticed Maxime Labasse had taken a quick line out to Will Bell who raced in from 52 metres to score unopposed. Lloyd Davies added the conversion.
Dale’s seventh score again showed how strong a team is when forwards and backs combine. Jim Mason forced a penalty at the break down. Cameron Hudson took a quick tap, great running from Josh Burridge, Lloyd Davies and Jake Parkinson took the play deep into the opposition 22 before a gorgeous inside pass was taken by Josh Prell to score. Davies was again successful from the tee.
Matt Outson crossed for Tynedale’s third try. An individual effort after Dale had surrendered territory and had Lloyd Davies sin binned for team offences. A delightfully weighted chip by the stand off was followed up by himself and gave him just reward for his afternoon’s efforts. Rob Parker’s conversion brought the final score to 45-21.
Club captain, James Doherty, commented “The overall feeling from the game was one of satisfaction. It was great that 26 players were involved and everybody played their part. We played at times with a very high tempo, we were ambitious and it was nice to see some of the hard work done in pre season pay off. There is however lots to work on, we looked slightly fragile at times defensively and that is something we will need to develop going into the first league match of the season.
It was great to host Tynedale, a rugby club that mirrors our values, and I wish them all the very best for the season.”
Coach, Tom McGee, added “It was a good test for the squad. It was physical, particularly physical at the breakdown with a lot of ball in play time, so the lungs got a real opener which is what we needed moving into our 1st league game versus Coventry.
Overall we were pleased, our energy, offload, movement and push through game at times is heading in the right direction. There were some key areas in this game where were looking for improvements from Stourbridge which we got, however there were elements that were a bit patchy that will need attention through the training week.
The return of Rob Baldwin is a real boost for the team after a lengthy spell out through injury – Rob brings intensity and lifts the players around him with the way he plays the game.
It was a much changed back division from Stourbridge, I felt we showed promising signs, ambition to play and a better balance in controlling possession and in our decision making.
Again we had a deep squad of 26 who are all pushing for place – so in that respect we’ve got genuine depth and competition for places within the squad, it’s going to be tough this week trimming down to 20 for league rugby, as coaches it’s a great dilemma to have.
It’s important we move our attention quickly to Coventry who will be up there at the top in Nat 1. Our mentality will be to learn from today, have a real go next week and be the best we can off the back of a good training week.”
A thoroughly splendid afternoon at the Avenue. Fast open rugby with all 26 players on show showing their ability to compete at this level. The outstanding Harry Bullough was one of many taking their chance to impress. Of the new players George Hedgley again showed his speed and ability around the park and Labasse brings a new element to the Greens. Jake Parkinson gave a splendid show and proved that he was capable of ball carrying and tackling at this level. Harry Skelton took over from Doherty at scrum half and there was no lack of momentum when he came on. Another youngster, Ralph Wellock, was given a chance on the wing and showed great promise. It was heart warming to see Alistair Allen back in action and also to see Rob Baldwin back on the pitch, both looking to have an appetite for National One rugby.
Wharfedale – Steel, Stockdale, Beesley, Willett, Howard, Hedgley, Burridge, Baldwin; Doherty (c), Guy; Cicognini, Hudson, Morgan, Labasse, Bullough.
Replacements used – Cano, Wade, Parkinson, Mason, Allen, Oxley, Bell, J.Prell, Skelton, Wellock, Davies