Wharfedale had the better of the first 30 minutes and led comfortably by 20 points to 12.
The visitors set off at a great pace and showed the skills that they promised on a fine dry afternoon. After an exchange of kicks Otley were caught in possession and a fine tackle from Lewis Wilson led to the same player getting over the ball and winning a penalty. Tom Barrett slotted the three points from 35 yards.
Dale attacked from the Otley restart and Andy Hodgson and Jamie Guy took play deep into Otley’s 22. Dale were awarded a penalty and Otley’s Jack Scott was yellow carded. A kick to touch was followed by a catch and drive. Mike Bradshaw broke free and off loaded to Lewis Wilson who went over to touch down. Barrett added the two points.
Dale again ran the ball from the restart. This was when the mistakes kicked in. A loose pass gave Otley a line out on half way. The Green line held through 4 phases and Otley kicked. The ball was fielded in Dale’s 22 but then lost, and a penalty soon awarded to Otley. The kick to touch was followed by a catch and drive from which Otley prop Tipiloma Kivalu crashed over to score. Tom Hodson converted.
A clever restart from the quick thinking Barrett was wasted when the ball was moved right and squandered. A scrappy period of play ended with a Dale line out on half way. Good possession led to a break in midfield by Rob Baldwin. Barrett swept the move forward and was supported by Lewis Wilson who put in Baldwin to score under the posts. Tom Barrett suffered an injury in the move so Jamie Guy stepped up and added the extras.
Dale again seemed to have taken the restart but leaving a player isolated gave Otley a penalty and good field position. Having won the line out they spread the ball left, and because of clever running off the ball into the Dale defence and weak tackling, they were allowed room to squeeze Alexander Beaumont in for a try. After consulting with his assistant the referee decided that the try should be awarded. Hodson failed with the conversion.
After 25 minutes Otley were awarded their first put in at a scrum. Dale had already had a scrum and won their ball with a nudge as well. This was different and was to be the main pattern of the afternoon. Otley were awarded a penalty and instead of having to kick away possession cleared their lines and had the line out as well. The problem was hidden for a while as Dale won the ensuing line out and gained the advantage. A strong attack led to a penalty in front of the posts 26 metres out which Jamie Guy slotted.
A scrappy period followed without Dale being able to get out of their own half. Mistakes were costly and gave the home side territory and possession. Four scrums followed and three penalties awarded to Otley. The fifth scrum led to a penalty try to Otley and was turned into a maximum 7 by Hodson.
Mistakes led again to Otley possession and after an exchange of kicks strong running from Otley aided by weak tackling from the Greens allowed Jack Mackie in for a try wide out to the left. Hodson again found the angle too difficult but Otley were now in front at half time.
The second half resumed with more mistakes stopping Dale from dominating. This meant Dale were again defending scrums in their own 22. Now with the added disadvantage of no Rob Baldwin, sent to the sin bin for a technical offence, the ref had little option but to award another penalty try and again Hodson added two more points. He added a penalty kick six minutes later. This meant that from 12-20 down Otley had scored 22 unanswered points.
Dale then bounced back into the match with another move that showed much promise. A good run from Harry Bullough and well worked phases drew a penalty and a kick for touch. The line out was cleanly won and Jamie Guy cleverly put Bullough in to score under the posts. Guy made no mistake from the tee. Otley’s restart went straight into touch and Dale won the scrum on half way. Oliver Cicognini and Baldwin were prominent in a move which only broke down 5 metres from the try line with maybe one flash pass too many.
Play was then halted when fists flew from Otley’s Kivulu. Wharfedale’s George Hedgley also threw a punch. Both players were shown the red card.
Still Dale pressed ahead. A line out on Otley’s 22 was won and the line threatened with runs from Guy and Baldwin but, but…. the ball was knocked on. The script seemed to be different as Otley were guilty of not using the ball and Dale given the put in! Dale secured their own ball and again threatened to score but, but….. the ball was dropped. The script resumed and two scrums and two penalties later Otley had good possession in Dale’s 22. Good ball was spun right and with a two man overlap managed to put Jack Mackie in for his second try. Hodson missed another difficult conversion but the match was now safe for the home side.
Wharfedale pressed on in the last two minutes but a knock on and an interception saw Otley through to the final whistle leaving the visitors with no bonus points.
Looking at the stats then…. Scrums :- Wharfedale 4 from 4 (inc 1 free kick) Otley 13 from 14 (inc 10 penalties to Otley and 1 reset turnover to Dale for not using the ball) Line outs :- Wharfedale 9 from 9. Otley 12 from 13.
We can all see the obvious from these stats. The 10 penalties on the Otley scrum cost Dale field position as Otley kicked down field. It also cost 14 points as two penalty tries were awarded. There are arguments that this was not Dale’s major problem. The handling was superb at times but chronic at others. The same could be said of the tackling. Dale’s lineout was the platform that produced results with all three tries coming after a clean take by the forwards.
Team: – S Jordan; R Davidson, A Hodgson, J Guy, O Cicognini; T Barrett ( H Bullough 20), H Skelton; J Huck (I Larkin 45), D Stockdale, M Bradshaw, A Allen (A Oxley HT), G Hedgley, R Baldwin, L Wilson (J Burridge 65), J Burridge (E Ward 55).
Replacement unused: – J Parkinson