For many years a trip to Blaydon saw Wharfedale come back down the A1 with little to show for their afternoon’s work apart from bruises. In their last two visits however things turned round. Two seasons ago a spirited comeback saw the Greens garner two points and last season they had a superb 5 point victory.
Early promising rugby was spoilt by a host of handling errors and it gave the home side enough possession to score the first converted try. More mistakes followed before the Green Machine got their skill set going and started to gain the upper hand.
A delightful chip by Tom Barrett was recollected and the ball spun left. Only cynical play by Blaydon stopped a Wharfedale try but led to a yellow card for the home side. Soon the extra man told and good runs from Josh Prell and Barrett led to Scott Jordan crossing to score an unconverted try.
Dale retained the ball from the restart and were soon creating problems for the Blaydon defence. A good break from Oliver Cicognini was followed by a shattering surge from Lewis Wilson. Ralph Wellock carried on the attack before feeding Jordan for his second try of the afternoon. Another missed conversion but Dale were leading 7-10.
Minutes later Cicognini again broke free and gave Dale good field position. This time a cross kick was taken by Lewin Wilson who stretched the lead to 10-15. Again Barrett was unsuccessful from the tee.
Dale saved their best rugby of the half until last. Glorious interplay in midfield led to the Blaydon defence looking flat footed. Charges from George Hedgley and Jimmy Meehan allowed Harry Bullough to take the ball at speed and finish off the half with a try under the posts. Barrett popped the conversion over to give Dale a deserved 7-22 advantage at half time.
With changes made at halftime the game could have become scrappy but neither side allowed this to happen and the meagre crowd were treated to a festival of open rugby.
Blaydon opened the scoring with a try wide right. Barrett then picked up on a Blaydon handling error and put Jordan in for his third try.
Back came the home side with two tries to make the score 24-29 with minutes to go.
The final try came from another Blaydon mistake. Again it was Tom Barrett who scooped up the ball, burst clear and outran the cover to score from his own ten metre line to leave the visitors winning by 24-34.
There were many, many positives to take back to Yorkshire. The forwards held their own in the tight and the line out worked well. At the breakdown there was outstanding work, turnovers were forced and on a few occasions the Blaydon ball carrier was held up.
The backs, led by Tom Barrett, showed real attacking flair. There were mistakes but so much flair. At times the pace was breathless. When the backs did stop the forwards were quickly on hand to secure possession and rebuild through phased rugby.
Head coach, James Doherty, reflected after the match that “It was extremely pleasing to see the boys playing with a smile on their faces. They were brave and ambitious and played some very attractive rugby. Yes there were errors, and our basic execution of our skills is something we will work on long term. It is a good starting point. It gave us an idea of the areas we need to develop building towards our first league game at the start of September.”
Team: – R Wellock, J Prell, S Jordan, A Hodgson, O Cicognini, T Barrett, S Gaudie, J Altham, I Larkin, M Bradshaw, E Ward, G Hedgley, A Oxley, L Wilson, J Burridge
Replacements: – D Stockdale, J Meehan, E Balodis, T Whyte, J Bullough, H Bullough, J Guy, R Hamilton, S Crabtree