Blackburn 24-33 Wharfedale

Blackburn RUFC’s ground was well worth a visit. Situated to the north of Blackburn and looking out of the clubhouse there were fields with cows and sheep. A warm welcome was given by the Blackburn folk and a good number of the faithful settled down to watch the last warm up game before the season starts properly next Saturday.

Dale started well and worked the ball up to Blackburn’s 5-metre line and had an attacking line-out. Sadly the set piece misfired and Blackburn escaped. Blackburn then had a long period of possession. This was helped by Dale giving away 12 penalties and also picking up a yellow card. Blackburn had a strong presence on the field but the Dale defence held; there were three passages of play when the home side went through over 10 phases without really penetrating.

The Green Machine then stepped up a few gears. The dominant scrum won a penalty and after a short phase of play Sam Gaudie sent the ball downfield and Dale were on the attack. Another penalty followed and a quick tap led to James Coulton nearly scoring but Ben Wright was on hand to crash over and score. Robbie Davidson converted.

Dale were soon back in possession. They stole a line out on their own 10-metre line, went through a couple of quick phases then sent the ball down the line to create space for Omari Kaup-Samuels to run in from distance. Again, Davidson sent the ball over the cross bar to give Dale a 14-point lead.

Dale were now playing with confidence and, more importantly, with pace and accuracy. Three phases after the restart Dale were awarded a penalty. The resulting line-out was won and the ball run at the defence. Gaudie split the defence and gave the scoring pass to Ryan Hodgson. Davidson added the extras.

Blackburn fought their way into the match. Dale were again guilty of giving away penalties. With the help of 5 penalties and strong running from some of the big forwards the Lancastrians scored two tries one of which was converted.

The game continued with the sides exchanging scores. Both sides added two more to leave the score Blackburn 24 Wharfedale 33.

Dale’s fourth try came from a good catch and drive. The ball was then spread left and the move was finished with a flourish by Gaudie. The visitors last try was set up by Gaudie who, again, gave the scoring pass to Hodge. Davidson went very close with the 4th conversion but was successful from wide out for the 5th.

There were moments in this game when the Green Machine looked to be getting close to playing a high level of rugby. There was passion and commitment. A penalty count of 20 against Dale and 10 against Blackburn + two yellow cards for the Greens is a worry but should not disguise an all round good display by the Wharfedale players.

Cheshire next week with a trip to newcomers Lymm.

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