Huddersfield 12-26 Wharfedale

News of another victory on the road trickled back to the Avenue. Not a thumping win, and great credit to Huddersfield who bounced back from the thrashing last time out at the hands of Sheffield. The home defence made Dale work for every point. For the Green Machine it was job done, banana skin avoided, 5 points in the bag and on to Rotherham. Wharfedale knew this was going to be tough with a Field side determined not to allow another big score to be put up against them. The weather was a great leveller, driving rain and a strong cold wind should have made handling a nightmare. Both sides played well in the conditions and handling errors were scarce.

A good number of the Faithful made the journey to Lockwood Park; some hardy souls even watched the game out in the open whilst the timider supporters sheltered in the stand or viewed the match from the clubhouse. The crowd was given as 239 in the Rugby Paper but the Match Report Card said 320!

The headline in the paper also said that “Harrison helps the in-form Dalesmen”. Good to see his spirit is still with us. It should have read Hamilton not Harrison as a reference to Rian who is back in the Green. The Star Man award went to Rob Baldwin; one analyst has now pointed out that he has scored more tries than he has had yellow cards this season!

The visitors dominated the first 20 minutes but the Field defence could not be broken. Charge after charge by the Wharfedale forwards was held short of the line by strong tackling and it was all the weight of scrum-half Oli Riddiough to break the deadlock. After 7 pick and go attempts by the big boys Riddiough took advantage of a tiny gap in the defence and dived over to open the scoring. Robbie Davidson added the conversion.

A couple of penalties gave the home side the chance to get into Dale’s 22 but they never threatened the line. Dale was soon back in Field’s 22 and had a scrum 12 metres out. A great drive by the Green Machine was followed by Rob Baldwin emerging and forcing his way over. Davidson added the extras to leave Dale ahead by 14 – 0 at oranges.

Field started the second half badly.  A knock-on gave Dale good field position and a penalty soon followed. Davidson pushed the ball up for an attacking line-out. The ball was secured and three phases later the ball sent along the line and Cicognini claimed his sixth try of this season. Davidson was again successful from the tee.

Four penalties and a knock-on gave Huddersfield territory and possession and their first period of real pressure on the visitor’s line. Liam Parfitt eventually crashed over and Ethan Myers added the conversion.

The conditions dominated the next period of play but gradually and patiently Dale started to dominate again. The penalty count started to mount as Dale camped on Field’s 5 metre line. Despite some efficient scrummaging by the Green Machine, it was only when the ball was spread down the line that Dale added the bonus-point try. Rian Hamilton crossed the whitewash for his first try on his first appearance on his return to the fold. No conversion from a difficult kick wide to the right and into the strong finger-freezing wind.

The game finished with possibly the try of the day; for Dale a nightmare as they seemed to move apart like the Red Sea did for Moses and the Israelites; for Field a memory to cherish. Huddersfield’s kick-off was returned up to prop Harry Whitfield standing nonchalantly on half-way (Harry claimed after the match that he caught the ball on his own 22). Off he set and with a combination of dancing feet, balletic body movement and, mostly, charging like a bull let loose on the streets of Pamplona, he grabbed a second try for Huddersfield.

One Sheffield team lost on Saturday to be replaced in fourth place by t’other one. The gap however is now three points as Dale close out their 2023 League programme with a Christmas Derby against Rotherham – not our nearest rivals as we travel past Otley and Leeds to get there but t’maps are different in the south!

Wharfedale: – Hodgson, Darwin, Cicognini, Coulton, Kaup-Samuels (Hamilton 36); Davidson, Riddiough; Altham, Wills (Collinson 58), Armstrong, Green, Hedgley (c), Beresford, Markey (Stockton 41), Baldwin (Pinder 52) Replacement not used Dickinson.

Managed by a ThriveWP care plan. ❤️