A dry afternoon and a pitch in surprisingly good order due to the efforts of the ground staff welcomed Yarnbury to the Avenue for the 3rd team’s first league encounter of the New Year.
Yarnbury were a bit late arriving due to traffic and only had 14 men, so Jake Starkey changed allegiance for the afternoon to even up the numbers and at 2:15 the game was underway.
The visitors proved to be a tricky bunch to break down and looked to open the scoring first following a period of sustained pressure but the ball was knocked on over the line and Wharfedale cleared their lines from the resulting scrum.
The first score came following a scything run by Maxime Labasse at fullback making good headway through the Yarnbury defence. The ball was recycled well and Michael Beer spotted the space out wide and a neatly executed chip allowed Harris Catley to touch down unopposed. Unfortunately he was unable to add the extras, but the home side were in front. 5-0.
The next score came from an excellent turnover by flanker Andrew Bode. The ball was then spun wide and after a series of neat passes, fullback Labasse crossed in the right corner. 10-0. From the re-start, Wharfedale struck again. The ball was passed out to left wing Sam Smith, who despite a last ditch tap tackle, had the momentum to bundle over. 15-0.
Wharfedale then got their 4th try when Jimmy Bullough at scrum half broke blind and had the strength to hold off the defenders and power over the line. 20-0.
Wharfedale were steadily gaining control of the match, but Yarnbury made the home side work for everything and their commitment and work ethic at the breakdown especially was outstanding. They were eventually rewarded for their efforts with a well taken try near the posts. 20-7.
Wharfedale rounded off the half with a second try for Labasse following a blustering run by No.8 Matt Wareing. 25-7
The second half was a tight affair for the first quarter of an hour and no extra points were scored. Eventually, winger Smith collected a well-timed pass from Labasse and showed his surprising pace to run clear of the defenders. Then, the athletic winger suffered a ‘jug avoiders niggle’ and came off with a ‘tight’ hamstring. 30-7.
Another good attack combining the sublime skills from Starbotton with a dusting of French flair was unfortunately thwarted by a dubious forward pass call but Wharfedale soon got another chance. Ben Parkinson on the right wing got the next try, showing his pace to pass the remaining defenders. Again, the tricky conversion was missed. 35-7. The final score of the afternoon was finished by Catley after a neat midfield move put the winger clear though to race home under the sticks and then add the only successful conversion of the afternoon. Final score 42-7
All in all, it had been a reasonable performance with some well taken scores but the penalty count was far too high and there is still plenty to improve on.
1. Matty Close
2. Ian Larkin
3. Ian Close
4. Dan Benson
5. Michael Snowdon
6. David Wade
7. Andrew Bode
8. Matt Wareing
9. Jimmy Bullough
10. Michael Beer
11. Sam Smith
12. Mark Simpson
13. Sam Mason
14. Harris Catley
15. Maxime Labasse
16. Tom Carlisle
17. Tom Baines
18. Ben Parkinson
Tries: Catley (2), Labasse (2), Smith (2), Bullough, Parkinson. Cons: Catley (1).