This fixture, played earlier in the season at the Avenue, went the way of the opposition. Sheffield taking the spoils 17-21. The Greens would have been under no illusion that this was going to be a tough outing as Sheffield were unbeaten at home this season.
Conditions for once were good considering the time of the year. Sheffield started the game, with a varying in strength breeze at their backs.
Sheffield from the outset put the Foresters under early pressure with much of the play returning to the Green’s 22. Dale were unable to establish territory and were uncharacteristically falling off tackles. The Foresters scrambled well however and were resolute in defence when defending a few metres from their own try line (a theme that continued for the game).
Despite putting Dale under repeated pressure close to the try line, Sheffield could not cross the white wash.
The Greens were awarded a scrum 5 metres out under their own posts. From here the Foresters caught Sheffield cold. Dale went right from the back-of the scrum, where some excellent inter play , led by Harry Bullough and Omari Kaup-Samuel, took the Greens deep into Sheffield’s half. The ball was spread left by the half backs along the back line to put winger Finn Walker in the left corner for a great try. After 17 minutes the score was 0-5.
Dale, now a little more settled, were able to play some rugby in the opposition’s half. However, neither team could establish any lasting dominance.
Dale were awarded a scrum about 10 metres from Sheffield’s try line just left of the posts. From a solid scrum the ball went right from the half backs to centre Callum Lockett. The big centre cut a great line to score under the posts. The try was converted by Max Bell, the score was now 0-12.
It seems to be a trait in rugby that teams seem to be at their most vulnerable just after scoring. Sheffield were awarded a penalty by Dale’s 10 metre line. They elected to kick for touch and found themselves 5 metres or so from the try line. From the ensuing line out Sheffield drove the Greens back to score from the maul (34 minutes 5-12).
Sheffield, now growing in confidence, were back in Dale’s territory some 3 minutes later. From another line out they drove Dale back to near their try line. The Greens repeatedly stopped the opposition forwards from crossing their line. The attacking backs, probably sensing that the forwards were going nowhere, demanded the ball. They swiftly moved it from left to right to score in the corner. Score at half time 10-12.
The second half became a stop start affair. For a considerable amount of time Dale could not establish enough phase play to gain any ground or territory. This resulted in a long period of pressure from Sheffield, where several 5 metre line out drives were repeatedly repelled by Wharfedale. Sheffield, in an attempt to mix up their attack, took a forward led tap penalty five metres from the try line. This was met with an impressive low tackle and drive by the Greens forwards to stop any chance of a score. This seemed to temporarily deflate Sheffield’s morale and Wharfedale could clear their lines to enjoy a period of play in the opposition half.
In the 73rd minute, Sheffield were awarded a penalty on Dale’s 22 for an offside in midfield. The kick was converted to take Sheffield into the lead 13-12.
With the game edging away it looked as though Sheffield would take the spoils again.
From a Wharfedale clearance into Sheffield’s half the opposition backs decided to counterattack from their right to the left wing. Unfortunately for them the young Wharfedale winger, Finn Walker, made a well timed interception and ran in under the posts to score and put the Foresters back in front.
Wharfedale’s players thought that the conversion was made however it was adjudged that it wasn’t.
The score at 76 minutes was now 13-17.
Wharfedale endured a difficult last few minutes knowing a try would seal the game for Sheffield. They tenaciously defended their line for one last time. They managed to turn Sheffield over close to the try line before clearing the ball off the field to take a hard fought win.
Despite not being at their best in open play on both sides of the ball, the Foresters will have been pleased with the defence around their try line.
Next week the Greens make another long journey to Driffield who are unbeaten at home in the league this season. They are sitting 2nd, one place above Wharfedale, in the table. Recent games with the Foresters have been very close and no doubt they will receive a warm reception next week.
Team: – 1. G Altham, 2. J Hirst, 3. T. Whitehead, 4. S. Borrill (capt), 5. Z. Heys, 6. J. Burridge, 7. M. Mountain, 8. J. Thompson, 9. O. Kaup-Samuels, 10. M. Bell, 11. O. Hall, 12. C. Lockett, 13. J. Prell, 14. F. Walker, 15. H. Bullough.
Replacements: – 16. L. Craven, 17. J. Burton, 18. S. Bennett