A great effort but no banana for Dale as Roth’ram saved their best for the last 21 minutes and ended up with a bonus point victory. The Clifton Park crowd were puzzled with their side’s tactics as they were finding it hard to cross the line. Eventually they returned to using their best weapons – direct, strong running by the forwards coupled with good handling, timely offloads and effective support play.
The wind played a factor in the match and was used by both sides to good effect. Dale had the wind behind them in the first half and this helped them to get into Titans 22 on quite a few occasions. Only once did they manage to come away with a score. This was thanks to a Solomiesque break from a ruck by Louis Verity on Roth’ram’s 22. Verity managed to beat the fullback to score and Robbie Davidson added the conversion.
Roth’ram had opened the scoring with a penalty after 9 minutes by Richard Hayes. Again, this puzzled the home crowd as Roth’ram’s ambition was to go for a bonus point win. Verity took Dale into the lead on 20 minutes. The Green Machine had other good attacking positions but the lineout misfired and the chances were squandered. Still, Dale went in at halftime with a 7 – 3 lead.
The second-half started with Titans getting into attacking positions but Dale managed to defend the line. 14 minutes in and Roth’ram again had a choice of kicking for the corner or taking three points. They chose the latter and closed the gap to a point.
Roth’ram’s first try came from good work by the forwards and then spreading the ball down the line for John Okafor to touch down; no conversion but the home side had taken the lead.
Yellow Cards were issued to a player from each side. Will Milner for Titans on 50 minutes and Rob Baldwin on 62. The penalty given away by Baldwin again left the home supporters puzzled as again the kick to the corner was ignored and Hayes pocketed another three points. This was possibly a tribute to the Dale defence and Titans were determined to get the win at all costs?
Dale tackled and tackled but were now faced with more of the running like the bulls from Pamplona. With the Boss off the pitch cracks did start to appear in the Green Wall and the home crowd gradually started to appreciate the efforts of their favourite sons. Three tries were scored in the last 12 minutes with Roth’ram securing the bonus point try on 80 minutes. Hayes converted two to take his personal tally to 13 points which earned him the Star Man award in the Rugby Paper.
The Roth’ram forwards played a big part in this victory especially when they started to use the battering ram tactics in the final quarter. Their lineout was very effective and they often had the edge in the scrum but credit to the Dale eight for not yielding for most of the afternoon. Not a great day for back play but Dale showed as much skill in this department as the opposition. One Roth’ram player who did stand out in the backs was, one time favourite down the Avenue, Harry Dunne.
With Sheffield winning their Christmas Derby against Sheffield Tigers, Dale slipped down to fourth place in the league. The 1st team will now have 3 weekends off before taking on Tynedale at the Avenue on 13th January. The Foresters will be providing the Christmas Fayre when they play the traditional Boxing Day match at the Avenue against North Ribblesdale, KO 2pm. The match is also being played to raise funds for Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Yorkshire Dales Fell Rescue. Admission will be £5 with all the gate money (and a bucket collection) going to the two charities.
Wharfedale: – Hodgson; Darwin, Coulton, Cicognini, Verity; Davidson, Riddiough (Prell 51); Dickinson, Collinson (Wills 68), Armstrong (Hirst 73), Stockton, Hedgley (c), Pinder, Markey (Green 55), Baldwin (Fawcett 73).