Wharfedale 31-7 Otley

A strong performance by Otley kept them in touch until well into the second half. Wharfedale then pinned Otley back and gradually built the score to gain a bonus point win and keep Otley to a solitary try.

Wharfedale announced their intent from the kick-off. A mixture of strong carrying from the forwards and good handling from the backs moved the ball deep into Otley territory. The final pass was not clean but a super opening statement. The Green Machine then won a scrum penalty and the ball was pushed into Otley’s 22. Dale secured the ball from the line-out and 2 phases later they moved the ball down the line for Oscar Canny to score an unconverted try; again, forwards and backs combining to make progress. 80 metres in 7 phases. Jake Armstrong was made Star Man in the Rugby Paper and was given a presentation by sponsors Moore Family law. The ultra-modest Jake said that he had done nothing for 60 minutes apart from scoring a try which will be described later on. Maybe he forgot these opening phases. Jake led the charge with a strong carry early on and then won the penalty at the scrum causing Otley’s loose head to fold; finally, he secured the ball at the resulting line-out.

Dale worked their way downfield again and a penalty try could have been secured after some clever footwork from Oscar Canny forced a defender to infringe with the try line begging. Referee, Llyr Apgeraint-Roberts. judged there was some cover and only issued a yellow card.

Four penalties later another yellow card was issued and Otley were reduced to 13 for a while but they battled hard to keep Wharfedale out. It is to the visitor’s credit that they actually had a couple of shots at goal during this before being back up to full strength; the resistance eventually broke and after battering the visitor’s line for 15 phases, Dale spread the ball to the right for Robbie Davidson to touch down. Sam Gaudie added the extras from the touchline.

Sam Waddington got Otley’s only try after they had a rare visit into the Wharfdale 22. After 9 good phases he took a crash ball and went over the whitewash. 12-7 at oranges.

The Green Machine broke the Otley resistance when good off loading saw them advance to the visitor’s 22. Jake Armstrong was passed the ball and set off on a rollicking run, carrying two defenders with him, to score a fantastic try. The move was started from a ruck and quick ball found acting stand-off Rob Baldwin. Baldwin looped round and kept the move going before Stockton passed the ball to Armstrong. Robbie Davidson landed an excellent conversion from wide left.

Baldwin still had work to do, soon after the restart. He turned the ball over and set off on a typical steam-roller run. Quick ball was spun right to the backs and through the hands of Oli Cicognini and Louis Verity to Canny, who ran an intelligent line drawing the defence, before giving Ryan Hodgson the scoring pass.

Tempers spilled over briefly when the excellent Oliver Riddiough was body checked after chipping the ball ahead; Gavin Stead earned a spell on the Naughty Seat. More penalties were given away as Dale mounted serious pressure on the Otley line. Eventually the ball was passed to a wide-open Hodgson who added his second for the last score.

Dale secure their 3rd spot in National 2 North with their 5th win out of 6. They are developing into a very strong outfit with great interplay between forwards and backs. It is a very exciting brand of rugby to watch; the players are enjoying the confidence to play full-on rugby and take chances. Not everything worked but most of it did and if you want to see flowing 15-man rugby then the Avenue is the place to be. However, next week the action will be over in East Yorkshire as Dale travel to Hull Ionians.

Wharfedale Hodgson (Kaup-Samuels 67); Canny, Coulton, Cicognini, Davidson; Verity, Gaudie (Riddiough 35); Dickinson, Collinson (Wills 38), Armstrong (Altham 71), Stockton, Hedgley (c), Pinder, Markey, Baldwin (Green 67).

Photos of Saturday’s exciting 1st XV #Nat2N win against @otleyrugbyclubare available to view and download at https://www.flickr.com/photos/128183691@N04/albums/72177720311773967Lower quality images can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/489145011182617

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