The Devs ultimately paid the price for a shockingly poor 20 minutes in the first half in which 4 tries were conceded.
Despite 10 changes in personnel from the squad that comfortably beat Keighley at home the week before, the Devs started the brighter. Terrific phase play and links between backs and forwards eventually resulted in a kickable penalty within the first 10 minutes. Unfortunately the kick was missed and Wharfedale had nothing to show for their early dominance.
West Leeds then came into their game and after several carries over the gain line were eventually rewarded with a try. The Devs replied and terrific off-loading allowed the ball to find its way to Adam Stockdale who scored in the corner.
What followed however was pure domination from the well drilled West Leeds side as they took advantage of poor tackling, a lack of discipline and a basic breakdown of fundamental skills which allowed them easy field position for them to exploit and scored 4 times at regular intervals in the 20 minutes before half time. The Devs however came close to snatching what would have been a telling score just before half time as a half break by David Wellock in the centre fed Harris Catley who was prevented by a terrific tackle on the line.
The talk at half time seemed more about damage limitation and how the next score was key, so when West Leeds scored again 5 minutes into the second half to give them a 33-5 lead things looked bleak. Enforced changes caused a bit of a reshuffle but for some reason they seemed to stir the Devs into life.
The forwards started to dominate around the fringes both in attack and defence and drives by David Wade and Dan Benson put them on the front foot. They were eventually rewarded when the outstanding 18year old Joe Metcalfe making just his second senior rugby appearance was able to break through and score under the posts. More pressure resulted in another replacement, James Huck, hammering over from close range. All of a sudden the belief was there not only to grab another try for the bonus point, but also to steal an unlikely victory.
Tom Willets, on his return from uni, hit a terrific line and showed great pace and strength to finish, before another Metcalfe try, almost straight from the kick off, put the Devs within a score.
West Leeds were a man down due to a yellow card and Wharfedale had the set piece domination but an unfortunate injury to the home side prop and a lack of front row replacements led to uncontested scrums. This took the momentum out of what was until then a fast flowing game played by both sides. Despite throwing everything at the West Leeds team they would not surrender their lead and even scored a breakaway try themselves to take away what would have been a deserved losing bonus point from the Devs in what is proving a very tight league at the top. Final score 38-29.
Wharfedale can be pleased by their second half performance which showed their real ability, but excellent in patches is not good enough and they will need to be consistent for 80 minutes against the stronger sides if they want to win the league this year.