Wharfedale took command of the game in the first half with excellent kicking from Tom Barrett that pinned Stourbridge back. Dale then started to spread the ball about and made the most of the chances given to them scoring six tries and putting Stourbridge to the sword.
Dale’s tackling was an important factor in the match and they held Stour on the gain line and sometimes pushed them back with ferocious encounters.
An early mistake from Dale did give the visitors possession but the Dale defence was solid and Stourbridge were pushed back into their own half and eventually they were forced to kick. A penalty soon followed but Tom Barrett missed from long range. Another handling error gave Stour another chance but again good pressure from Dale forced them to kick and Barrett put the ball into the visitor’s 22.
Stour again got a kick away and a third handling error from Dale meant they had more possession, and a free kick at the scrum gave Stour a rare chance to get into Dale’s half. Barrett then sent a steepling kick from his own 22 up to Stour’s 22 and again Stour were deep in their own half. They were forced to kick and a promising Dale attack was frustrated by another handling error. Stour failed to make inroads in the Green defence and kicked. Again Barrett sent the ball deep into Stourbridge territory.
Indiscipline crept in and two penalties cost Dale 40 yards. Stour tried to drive a maul but the ball was held up and Dale escaped with the put in at the scrum just inside their own 10 metre line. For once Barrett’s kick was not accurate as the ball went into touch on the full and Stour had an attacking line out. Stour then lost possession when George Hedgley was tackled off the ball and Barrett stepped up with another deep kick. Dale lost the line out and then soon after a wayward pass allowed Stourbridge to intercept and break out but they were quickly penalised and Barrett stepped up again. Dale then won the 5 metre line out and exerted pressure on the visitor’s line. Stour lost their second row, Ciaran Moore, for a deliberate knock on under the posts and an easy three points were on offer. Rob Baldwin opted for the scrum and Burridge broke through a tackle and ploughed his way to the line for the opening try, which Barrett converted.
Rob Baldwin on his return from injury
Stourbridge then had a good period of possession but were kept outside Dale’s 22 and eventually Barret had the chance to send them back again.
Harry Bullough finished off a sweeping move for an unconverted try and a Barrett penalty gave Dale a lead of 15 unanswered points at half time.
Wharfedale exploded at the start of the second half with a superb passing move involving forwards and backs which Burridge finished in the left corner. Barrett was again wayward from the tee. The move started to the right with Barrett finding Tom Davidson close to the right touch line. Davidson then weaved through various tackles and drew in quite a few defenders before offloading to Richard Rhodes. Joe Altham carried the ball and Tom Whyte took the ball before passing to Jamie Guy. Next up was Robbie Davidson, then Scott Jordan almost reached the line but Josh Burridge was on hand to receive the final pass. This was an exhilarating move which showed just what Dale were capable of; accurate passing with strong support.
Stourbridge did spend some time in Dale’s 22 but never really threatened the line but any resurgence ended when prop Stefan Thorp was sent for a rest for throwing a punch.
Scott Jordan pounced on a cross kick from Tom Barrett for Dale’s bonus point try, again unconverted, to put Dale 25-0 ahead.
Scott Jordan scores
Great work from the forwards, especially Josh Burridge, stretched the Stour defence and a beautifully timed pass from Barrett put Robbie Davidson under the posts for Dale’s fifth. Jamie Guy converted.
Dale finished with another scintillating move involving forwards and backs, including Robbie Davidson and Jack Kitching, which led to George Hedgley setting up Richard Rhodes to cross the whitewash. Guy could not master the wind for the conversion but Dale finished in style keeping Stourbridge scoreless and with 5 valuable points.
This was a performance that left the faithful warm and happy. Only the travelling support from the Midlands noticed the cold! Dale mastered the conditions better than the visitors. There were handling errors and the line out was not at the high levels of previous weeks but there were also outstanding performances.
Josh Burridge edged the Man of the Match award but there were others who could have got the nod. Burridge was denied a hat trick by the officials, with a clever move by a Stour player who jumped on him after the touch down so the ref could not see! Tom Davidson had an outstanding game with a high tackle count, forcing turn overs, dangerous running and good distribution. Tom Barrett forced Stourbridge into their own 22 on endless occasions in the first half and he followed up with some fine tactical kicking in the second half. He also created space for others in midfield with sniping runs and well timed passes.
Phil Woodhead was back to his best and helped Barrett in controlling play. There were some clever switches in direction and this showed how the two half backs were beginning to play well together. Jamie Guy was solid in midfield as were the rest of the three-quarter line. There was defence shattering running from Robbie Davidson, Scott Jordan and Harry Bullough.
All the forwards upped their game from last week and produced an outstanding effort. Josh Burridge was a force to be reckoned with all afternoon and a pity he was not rewarded with a hat trick. Rob Baldwin, back from injury a lot earlier than anticipated, brought his leadership to the fore and was a problem for Stourbridge in his play. It was obvious that he relished being back on the pitch and he chivvied and encouraged others around him. Tom Whyte also troubled the Stourbridge defence and was strong in the tackle and at the breakdown. The front row players, Joe Altham, Dan Stockdale and James Huck, all shone and had the upper hand on more than one occasion at the scrum. They also took their part in tackling and ball carrying. Richard Rhodes had his best game since his return from injury and showed that he was back to full fitness and strength – it had been a delight to see him charge over from two and a half metres for a try!
There was no lack of intensity or skill when the bench players took over and the try count continued to rise.
One of the highlights of the game for your scribe was when Stourbridge had possession well into the second half and had the temerity to reach our ten metre line. Three phases later, with some massive hits piling in, including some from the “human wrecking ball”, Adan Howard, they had been driven back 30 metres and forced to concede a penalty!
Congratulations to the merry band of Stourbridge supporters who were in Grassington for the weekend. Comments from the shed were made that they had been a joy to be with and the banter was excellent. They were impressed with Dale and thoroughly enjoyed the tries scored by the Greens.
Questions were asked about whether we had ever “nilled” an opposition before. The last time was against Harrogate on 23rd December 2006. There had been numerous occasions before that especially in the 1998-9 season. Still a great achievement against a team that is fourth in the league.
Wharfedale: – Harry Bullough; Robbie Davidson, Tom Davidson, Jamie Guy, Scott Jordan (Ralph. Wellock 63); Tom Barrett, Philip Woodhead; Joe Altham (Ian Larkin 67), Dan Stockdale (Jordon Poole 63), James Huck (Adam Howard 56), George Hedgley, Richard Rhodes, Rob Baldwin (c) (Jack Kitching 58), Tom Whyte, Josh Burridge.
The match photographs are available under the Photos tab – then click on the Link to Flikr Album