Wharfedale welcomed back a few familiar faces this week with veteran fly half Jonathan Davies returning from holiday and experienced 3rd teamers Tom Baines and David Wade making their first appearances of the season. In addition, 4 colts bolstered the side, a number of who were making their senior debut.
The game started with high levels of physicality. Moortowns pack were large in stature and were certainly making their presence felt in the collisions and at scrum time. Despite this, the hosts were the first to trouble the scorers. A mid-field penalty was tapped quickly by scrum half Dave Hickling and Moortown were judged to be not 10m back. The ball was then kicked to the corner and from the resulting lineout win, centre Michael Beer touched down on the blind side. The kick was missed. 5-0 to the men in green.
Moortown then showed their attacking ability and sent the ball wide to the right. An overlap beat the last defender then some soft cover talking allowed their man through to score. An excellent conversion took them into the lead at 5-7.
Wharfedale responded well and a slick move down the far side of the pitch with centre James Raper and young colt Alexander Vlahovic showed their pace to take the ball deep into Moortown’s 22. Quick ball was then passed out to prop Joe Jackson who crashed over on the right. Another tricky conversion was missed but back in front at 10-7.
Moortown then scored next in the see-saw first half. A good attacking kick to the corner set up the field position. Unfortunately for the home side, who were playing without a specialist hooker, the lineout went awry and the Moortown pack capitalised crashing over from short range. Another successful conversion, 10-14.
Moortown then extended their lead with a penalty, 10-17. Then following another loose lineout, the ball was spun wide and the visitors cut through again to score under the posts. The easy conversion took the score to 10-24.
As we approached the end of the half, Wharfedale found their attacking ability once more. Another good break by Vlahovic was followed up by a quick pick and go by Wade. Davies continued the move as he broke through the defensive line but was tackled inside the 22. The ball was recycled and passed out to the left where second row James Ardron crashed over. 15-24.
A positive feeling at half time that the game was still there to be won for the home side if they cut down on the mistakes and managed to get on the score sheet early. Unfortunately, things did not go to plan and it was the visitors who had a purple patch scoring 2 tries in the opening exchanges. The first capitalised on a loose tackle to take the score to 15-29, then a loose ball was hacked through and they had the pace to get to the ball first to take the tally to 15-34. Surprisingly, their excellent kicker missed the conversions on both occasions.
Wharfedale then gathered themselves and got back into the game with a series of pick and drives and took the ball to the heart of the Moortown defence. A try was thought to have been scored but the ref was unsighted but a penalty was awarded. A quick tap and a few more phases then flanker John Stephenson crashed over. JD added the extras, 22-34.
Moortown soon restored their lead with a clean break for a converted try to take the tally to 22-41, but soon after Wharfedale dragged the deficit back to 12 points and a slim chance of a Houdini act. Hickling was this time on the score sheet as he powered over from short range. JD again converted. 29-41. Unfortunately for the hosts it was not to be and the final whistle drew proceedings to a close and confirmed the first home defeat of the season. Fewer missed tackles, better decision making and in some cases extra match fitness may have made a difference but ultimately Moortown were a very good side and fully deserved their victory. A bright note for the home side was the contribution of the 4 colts, Vlahovic and Tom Oakes on the wings, Olly Bullock playing at full back and Charlie Lawn covering wherever required. All 4 lads were more than comfortable at this level and hopefully we will see them in the senior sides again soon.
1. Joe Jackson
2. David Wade
3. James Huck
4. Dan Benson
5. James Ardron
6. Tom Baines
7. John Stephenson
8. Matt Wareing
9. Dave Hickling
10. Jonathan Davies
11. Alexander Vlahovic
12. Michael Beer
13. James Raper
14. Tom Oakes
15. Olly Bullock
16. Thomas Walker
17. Charlie Lawn
Tries: – Beer, Jackson, Ardron, Stephenson, Hickling. Conversions: – Davies (2)