Wharfedale’s Development XV entertained Old Brodleians at the Avenue in unusually benign weather conditions for February in Upper Wharfedale. This fixture is always a feisty affair and the match did not disappoint. The young ambitious Dales side faced wily, heavy and committed opposition and for a long time they struggled to impose themselves on the game. Wharfedale had a strong scrummage, a lively pack in the loose and flair in the backs but Old Brods were strong in the tackle and made the very most of the opportunities they had.
The game began promisingly for the Greens. A superb break from centre James Raper was eventually held up over the try line and from the resulting 5 metre scrum centre Scott Rodgers burst through for a score. 5-0 to Wharfedale. Old Brods replied with a period of pressure that led to a penalty. 5-3.
From the kick off Wharfedale surged forward and pushed their opponents back but with the goal line in sight a wayward pass was intercepted by OB’s winger who ran 70 metres to dot down under the posts. The try was converted 5-10. From the restart Wharfedale had the upper hand with possession and territory and pounded away from close quarters, scrum half George Marshall eventually darting in for a converted try. Wharfedale ahead 12-10. The pattern of Wharfedale pressure and magnificent OB defence continued for the rest of the half until a loose ball was gathered by Old Brods in their half and a superb cross-field kick was gathered by their right wing who jogged in for a try with no Dales defenders in attendance. 12-15.
Wharfedale finished the half with a try by hooker from short range after another period of pressure. 17-15 to Wharfedale.
The second half saw the Dalesmen turn their territorial and possession advantage into points and despite their magnificent defence Old Brods slowly buckled under the pressure. From the kick off Wharfedale pressured the defence and won a lineout five metres out and a superb catch and drive saw second row Matthew Colgrave bulldoze over for a try, converted by Jonathan Davies. 24-15.
The men in green had much the better of the second half. The young Wharfedale centres were always a threat and the backs were superbly marshalled by the slightly more mature stand-off Jonathan Davies. As a result Wharfedale spent much of the rest of the half camped in Old Brods territory. The visitors didn’t help themselves by having a player yellow carded and engaging in ongoing, animated conversations with the referee.
Keeping their discipline and focus Wharfedale scored two more converted tries from close quarters, the first grabbed by prop James and a second score for Matthew Colgrave from another excellent lineout and maul resulting in a final score of 38-15.
This was an excellent performance by the Wharfedale Develoment XV and it keeps them in the hunt for the league title; second place behind Moortown 2nd XV with two games in hand.