Wharfedale 19 – 34 Rotherham Titans

Wharfedale made a perfect start inside a minute. A long kick off was fielded by Sam Gaudie and pumped back to half way where it was knocked on. Even though Wharfe were pushed back ominously, Gaudie appeared round the blind side, made a searing break before feeding the back row and then Louis Verity who sent James Coulton through under the posts to leave an easy conversion for Robbie Davidson. After 7 minutes Lloyd Hayes kicked his first penalty, the start of a fine performance with the boot which yielded 19 points, some penetrative punts to touch and the man of the match award. Surprisingly poor handling by the visitors in the early stages helped Wharfedale’s cause. When their impressive line-out with Matt Smith to the fore threatened to get on top Wharfedale’s defence stood firm with Gaudie again leading the way. More loose play by the visitors led to a Wharfedale threat down the left led by Beau Verity, but a knock on by a supporting prop prevented a try. More intense pressure saw Rob Baldwin just held up after a quick tap penalty but the supporting Elliot Stockton scored. Robbie Davidson converted. There were no further tries in the first half, so the Greens went into the break with a 14-3 lead, a just reward for some gutsy and attractive play.

The second half started with too much kicking and then increasing pressure from Rotherham. Some notable tackles by Sam Dickinson and Ben Markey meant that an inevitable try from concerted Rotherham pressure was delayed until Matthew Challinor crossed after 54 minutes. Then followed 6 minutes in which the Greens gave away three penalties all kicked by Hayes. 5 minutes later, Jack Townend scored for the visitors after a handling error by a Wharfedale back due to the intense pressure being exerted. After the successful conversion Wharfedale were now behind 14-26. Sam Gaudie, who can never have had a better game (he was everywhere!), took a quick penalty and after the ball had been transferred through several pairs of hands there was no stopping Omari Kaup-Samuels as he galloped to the line. Having two scrum halves on the field had certainly worked after Gaudie returned from his technical yellow card on the hour. A breakaway try by former Green, Harry Dunne, completed the scoring in what had been a most entertaining match, a credit to both sides. The comparatively raw referee, the former Sale player Jack Moorhouse, acquitted himself as well as could have been expected. We need more ex-players like him to perform this vital duty. Welcome to the hot house Jack!

John Clark

Wharfedale: – R Hodgson, R Davidson (T Mallinson 40), J Coulton, O Cicognini, B Verity, L Verity (O Kaup-Samuels 23), S Gaudie, S Dickinson (R Collinson 67, J Armstron 71)), R Collinson (M Beesley 52), J Armstrong (G Altham 48), E Stockton, G Hedgley, J Pinder (R Green 27), B Markey (J Pinder 55) and R Baldwin (B Markey 68).

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