Gale force winds and rain greeted Plymouth on their arrival at the Avenue. The ground was very heavy but playable.
Wharfedale elected to play with the wind in the first half and were rewarded with a penalty in the 11th minute after a dominant scrum. Jamie Guy kicked the penalty to give the hosts an early lead.
On 19 minutes, after a succession of drives and line outs, Wharfedale were awarded another penalty which Jamie Guy successfully converted.
The hosts continued to apply pressure and after a period of scrappy, error strewn play, Wharfedale were awarded another penalty in the 29th minute following a good line- out catch and drive. Jamie Guy convered to give his side a 9 – 0 lead.
What followed was sustained pressure from the Plymouth pack, stout defence from Wharfedale, but in the 38th minute the visitors drove Michael Stupple over the line for a try. Billy Searle added the extras making the half time score 9 -7.
The second half belonged to the Wharfedale pack who refused to be daunted by the elements and drove relentlessly at the Plymouth defence, going through multiple phases to gain hard earned metres but were unable to break the line and score.
In the 78th minute, just when it looked like a hard fought victory for Wharfedale was on, a well-directed up and under was mis-judged resulting in a five-metre scrum and a penalty to Plymouth. From a quick tap Matthew Shepherd was driven over the line for a try, The conversion was missed.
The remarkably good crowd of nearly 400 saw an evenly contested match that Plymouth edged to win by the fact they scored two tries, but the future bodes well for Wharfedale as they build momentum to climb out of the relegation zone.
Tommy McGee, Head Coach commented: –
“Everybody that was at the Avenue could see what our guys put into this game of rugby, in what could only be described as atrocious conditions – some of the worst I’ve seen in the second half. I felt it was unfair on our boys to lose this game with how much they put in, but as coaches and as a club we can be really proud of their effort, commitment & endeavour.
On the game itself, I felt we needed to be further ahead on the scoreboard after 40 mins. Our fringe defence and contacts could have been stronger, We gave them a too many free yards through penalties into the wind which allowed them to cross our line going in 9-7. Fair to say we’ve had some poor starts to second halves recently where games have got away from us early doors – but not today, our start was outstanding, and continued throughout. It was a real team effort.
For whatever reason the referee did a complete U-turn and penalised us heavily which was confusing as we were the team moving forward continually being positive. To dominate territory and possession against the extreme elements was testament to our character and sheer desire. The players gave they’re all. Can we ask for more in terms of attitude? – No!
Can we be better technically? – Yes. We’ve got a few areas we’ve set out collectively as a group that we’re looking to improve on through December and we’re absolutely working our hardest to develop our game.
That ability to really dig deep, stay mentally strong under the pump, go to the dark places as a team together is something that I’ve been looking for recently. We’ve done that today in bucket loads so hopefully we’ll use this experience as a turning point in our season.
We’ve currently got 20 1st team squad players out injured or unavailable. To even be competing shows the depth we have at the club at the moment and what the guys are putting in. We need to kick on from here, be positive, and move into Hull with the mentality to win.
M Labasse; W Davidson, M Van Sertima, H Morgan, R Wellock; J Guy, W Bell; J Altham (M Beesley 67), S Graham (D Stockdale 60}, C Steel (A Wade 41), G Hedgley, S Willett, A Powell (M Beesley 29, A Powell 43), J Burridge, R Baldwin.
Subs not used: –
T Whyte and H Bullough
A selection of photographs is available under the Photos tab.