Sheffield Tigers 14 – 8 Wharfedale

A very disappointing display from the Green Machine saw another away defeat. Unlike Hinckley and South Leicester away in January this was not a case of playing well and being unlucky to lose. This was a match more reminiscent of Dale’s displays back in October. Mistake followed mistake, Dale could not build through phases, there was no fluency in their play and they could not keep Tigers penned in their own half.

Wharfedale started well and put pressure on Sheffield in the first five minutes. It was only errors from Dale that seemed to stop them from scoring in a very good opening few minutes. An early knock on from Tigers meant a scrum inside Dale’s half. Wharfedale drove the Tigers back and were awarded a scrum penalty. Tom Barrett pushed the home side into their own 22. The line out won, with a penalty advantage being played Dale moved the ball along the line. As soon as penalty advantage over was called, the ball was chipped to the Tiger`s fullback for an easy mark and escape. Dale attacked again from good line out ball. This time the attack ended when the offload on third phase went to a Sheffield player. The third attack soon followed but a long pass was not taken and possession squandered. Three phases later Tigers created space on the right and, with good running from full back Peter Swatkins, winger James Broadley crossed for an unconverted try.

With Dale squandering possession and territory, and being guilty of a lack of discipline, Tigers added three penalties through the boot of Mark Ireland and were leading 14-0 after 20 minutes.

There was no lack of effort from the Green Machine, but something was not there. There was no spark. there was a lack of fire. Some of the faithful commented on how quiet the Greens were compared to the Tigers who were constantly talking to each other and making themselves heard verbally and physically.

Wharfedale did play a little better in the second half and opened their account with a good unconverted try from Harry Bullough. Even then they started the second half with two handling errors before a Jamie Guy tackle, with Tom Whyte in attendance, gave Dale a scrum on the Tiger’s 10 metre line. At last the backs found their feet and they found each other. A break from Tom Davidson was carried on by Robbie Davidson who put Bullough over for the try.

Harry Bullough’s Try

Any momentum was immediately lost when the Tiger’s restart was dropped in Dale’s 22.

The visitors did scramble a valuable point with a Tom Barrett drop goal and, with Scunthorpe losing at Otley, that point lifts them one place in the scramble against relegation.

Dale, because of the mistakes, had to defend their own line and credit must be given to some superb work in defence in the second half. The score could have been worse, as another of the faithful commented, if Tigers had capitalized on Dale’s errors. As it was Sheffield were guilty of making mistakes as well.

Another positive was the set piece. Dale continued to dominate the line out and statistics show that they restricted Sheffield to just 20% completion rate compared to winning 80% of their own line out ball. Also the scrum was much better with Dale, although fading later in the second half, more than a match for the Tigers.

So much was expected and yet so little produced. There was a good following who travelled to South Yorkshire hoping to see the same level of rugby that had been produced in recent weeks and cheer the Greens to that elusive away win. Let us hope that this display will be put to the back of our minds and a more positive and fluent display take place on Saturday against our old friends Stourbridge. The travelling faithful will not lose heart, even though they seemed to lose their voice at Dore Moor.

I would like to thank the players who came and thanked the away support and also, with great humility, apologized for the performance.

I would finish by saying to the players, the coaching staff and the support “Do not lose heart. Do not lose belief….Do not lose”

Wharfedale: – Harry Bullough; Robbie Davidson, Tom Davidson, Jamie Guy, Josh Prell; Tom Barrett, Phil Woodhead; Joe Altham, Dan Stockdale (Jordon Poole 41), Toms Asejevs (James Huck 34, Toms Asejevs 68), Adam Howard (Alistair Allen 34, Adam Howard 41), Richard Rhodes, George Hedgley, Tom Whyte (Ian Larkin 65), Josh Burridge (c).

Replacement not used: – Jimmy Bullough.

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