After a presidential meeting it was decided that, after a draw, Wharfedale should retain the Baggett trophy. It was a true pre-season friendly and a game that both sides will have benefitted from. There was some very good rugby interspersed with errors on both sides.
Blaydon attacked from the kick off and a penalty touch kick from Jamie Guy (ex Wharfedale) sent the home side back into their 22. The defence was excellent and turn over ball won. This was run by Dale and Blaydon were soon defending their own line. After a couple of brilliant scrums Dale were awarded a penalty try.
Blaydon levelled a few minutes later with a try from Jack Appleton and a superb conversion from Guy. Blaydon then took the lead when the centres combined in midfield and gave Dan Marshall the chance to touch down. Guy added the extras.
Wharfedale had some good play in the last minutes of the first half but handling errors meant that the moves fizzled out. Most notable of the moves was a strong break by scrum half Will Lawn.
Dale could have opened the scoring in the second half with a great line run by Ryan Hodgson which led to sustained pressure, but a knock on the line let the visitors off the hook. The pressure eventually told and from a catch and drive Dale drove to the line. Sam Booker then peeled off and crashed over for a try. Hodgson levelled the score from the tee.
Parity did not last long. Blaydon worked hard to get into Dale’s 22 but Wharfedale seemed to have escaped. A long pass by Dale in midfield was then easily picked off and Appleton strolled in under the posts to give Guy his easiest kick of the afternoon.
The best individual play of the afternoon came from George Hedgley. He took a clearance kick on his own 22 and set off. He rounded two tacklers, brushed off the next one and the fourth tackle was bounced away before Blaydon could bring him down just outside their own 22. Unfortunately, the recycled ball was spilled in midfield.
From a line out on half way Wharfedale then played some of their best rugby. Forwards and backs combined in 9 phases to move the ball forward. A dummy from second row Richard Rhodes, gave him space to get behind the defence. His offload to Matty Houghton led to the wing forward scoring. Hodgson tied the score with the conversion.
Wharfedale 7 from 8 (inc. 3 pens, 1 pen try for & 1 free kick against).
Blaydon 7 from 9 (inc. 1 free kick & 1 pen against)
Line outs: –
Wharfedale 7 from 11 (64%).
Blaydon 12 from 17 (inc. 3 not straight – 71%).