A pleasant winters day and a decent pitch welcomed Wharfedale to Heaths compact but healthy set-up. We had beaten the host earlier in the season but knew that they were always going to be strong opposition.
The host started strongly with dynamic and powerful pick and drives and strong hard running making sure that the visitors had to be on their metal and up to the challenge. They opened the afternoon’s scoring with a try from a lineout after a penalty was given away. It was excellently converted to give them a 7-0 lead.
Wharfedale were then managing to find their feet in the enthralling and combative contest and after 20 minutes had a score of their own. After a series of strong carries, the ball was put out wide to the impressive Will Harr on the wing to score. JD was off target with the extras, 7-5.
The men in green continued to attack and the ball came out to the right where Dan Benson, loitering in a centre, channel cut through but unfortunately the pass to put winger Fred Hewetson in at the corner was intercepted and their man had the pace to score a ¾ length try. Converted again, 14-5.
The sides were very evenly matched in most areas, but the hosts certainly had the upper hand in the scrum. A Dale put in in our half was put under pressure, Joe Metcalfe at 8 tried to rescue the situation but further errors due to the pressure from Heath eventually yielded their 3rd try. The conversion was missed but a solid 19-5 lead. Heath then extended their lead with a penalty to take the half time score to 22-5.
The talk at the interval was that we had the ability and had shown that we could create opportunities to score and we just needed to keep positive and keep playing to our strengths. The half started promisingly, Metcalfe broke clear and fed centre Sam Mason who had the pace to score. JD added the extras, 22-12. This was the followed up with Harrs second. The industrious winger supported the break from centre Nick Taylor and JD was on target again to reduce the deficit to 22-19.
Wharfedale continued to attack and were enjoying a real purple patch of the game. We were back up into Heaths 22 and were awarded a penalty. It was tapped quickly rather than taking a potentially easy 3 points. No score came but another penalty. It was then kicked to touch for the lineout as the driven maul had been performing well. Unfortunately it was kicked dead and Heath were let off the hook. Soon they were back in our half and scored from a driven lineout. The conversion was on target and their lead extended to 29-19 in what was to be a real turning point for our prospects.
The hosts added another before full time to finish deserved 34-19 winners. Our effort and commitment was outstanding and the score line possibly flattered Heath a little but in the end key decisions and execution at key times cost us and a very good side capitalized.
1. Matt Birkett, 2. Jake Starkey, 3. Thomas Walker, 4. Tom Fitsell, 5. Jim Bowers, 6. Dan Benson, 7. Tom Baines, 8. Joe Metcalfe, 9. James Raper, 10. Jonny Davies, 11. Fred Hewetson, 12. Nick Taylor, 13. Sam Mason, 14. Will Harr, 15. Harry Croft.
16. Tom Whitehead, 17. Will Lord, 18. Sam Lockwood, 19. Michael Beer.