Wharfedale travelled to North Manchester on a bright late autumn day and the travelling faithful helped to make the attendance over 200. Dale started well and good following up from the kick off put Sedgley Park under pressure in their own 22 and made them kick for a Wharfedale line out on the home 10 metre line. Clean ball was won and good handling and running pushed Sedge back onto their 22 and concede a penalty. Tom Barrett opened the scoring with a well taken penalty.
Sedgley hit back with pressure from the forwards creating space on the left for Matthew Riley to touch down. Riley failed to convert. The next fifteen minutes were a closely fought affair with one very promising move by Dale from Robbie Davidson, Joe Altham and Tom Whyte just running out of steam. It was then Sedgley, who dominated possession and territory, scoring another five tries before Dale scored again. Tries from Goodman (converted by Riley) and Bedlow gave the home side a 17-3 lead at half time.
Letori, McShane and Lowthian all scored unconverted tries to stretch the lead to 32-3 by the 70 minute mark. Josh Prell got one score back for Dale but the scoring was finished by Sedgley with substitute Sam Peet bursting through. Tom Riley added the conversion giving the hosts a thumping and thoroughly deserved 39-8 victory.
The stats are perhaps interesting and show that Dale were the architects of their own failure. Wharfedale had possession of the ball 30 times during the match compared with Sedgley Park’s 32. So what happened to make the score so one sided with seven tries to one? Park went through the phases and made Dale work hard. The home side went through 120 phases compared to Dale’s 75. Wharfedale did work hard and often turned the ball over only to see the precious piece of leather dropped or carelessly given away.
Dale generally had parity at the set piece. They lost two scrums and gained a free kick on one of Park’s put ins but they did not give away any scrum penalties. The line out work was very good from both sides with both sides just losing one line out.
The tackling was ok but still allowed the opposition to cross the whitewash seven times. It was described in the rugby paper as weak; a pity, there was hard work being undertaken.
The North Manchester side were sharper in attack with scrum half, stand off and centre running strongly all afternoon and making some of the Wharfedale attacks look a little insipid. They worked well together looping round and creating space for others to exploit. The last try was a perfect example. Substitute, Sam Pett, may have run a good strong line to break through but the space was created by stand-off Robert Holloway and centre Matt Riley.
Also of note was the Sedge defence. They pushed the off side line and were in the faces of the Dale attackers very quickly not allowing the Dale backs room to develop. They had also done their homework on Tom Barrett and the kicking that was so effective against Scunthorpe was met by well-placed defenders who then ran the ball back on many occasions. They then turned defence into attack.
After the last few weeks this was a disappointing afternoon for the Green Machine.
Team: – Andrew Hodgson (Robbie Davidson 77); Robbie Davidson (Josh Prell 64), Harry Bullough, Tom Davidson, Oliver Cicognini; Tom Barrett, Will Lawn (Jimmy Bullough 42); Joe Altham (Mike Bradshaw 68), Dan Stockdale, Toms Asejevs (James Huck 49), Richard Rhodes (Alistair Allen 68), George Hedgley, Tom Whyte, Lewis Wilson, Josh Burridge (c)