Aire/Wharfe Plate Match Report – Devs v Roundhegians
Following a tough opening round fixture against Bradford Salem and a hard-won league victory against Ripon the Devs came into this game nursing a few injuries and doubts about what to expect from Roundhegians.
The match began with both teams probing one another’s defence and looking to establish early dominance up front. Harry Croft, making a welcomed return at centre, took responsibility for carrying the ball to the opposition, generating a couple of promising breaks. Seven minutes in Wharfedale were the first to get points on the board with James Ardron being driven over the line by the forwards, Catley adding the extras.
The enthusiastic Wharfedale crowd didn’t have to wait long for the next score. A quick tap penalty taken by James Otulakowski caught Roundhegians by surprise and having bounced out of the tackle he was able to score close to posts. Catley dragged his kick wide leaving the Greens 12-0 up.
At this point Roundhegians started to get more structure in their play but they were undone by poor handling in their back line. The Devs next score also came from what initially looked a wayward pass, but Sam Smith was able to gather the ball off the floor around the half-way line and then made one of his trademark scything runs down the touch line, this time Catley added the extras 19-0.
With a strong lead established a comfortable victory might have been expected but Roundhegians began to show a cutting-edge that their earlier play had been missing. They responded almost immediately with a break off the back of a stolen line out, that saw them score under the posts and which left Sam Mason nursing a very sore shoulder. The next score also went to the visitors, who taking advantage of a missed knock-on worked the ball wide, creating an overlap to score in the corner. At 19-14 the game now looked very different.
The ‘Dale response was however excellent and having taken a scrum against the head a break was made down the blind side by Matty Wareing who released Scott Rogers and after some slick passing Stevie Pearson rounded off the move to score what proved to be the try of the night. The Devs then managed to create a final opportunity before half time. Joel Bradley made good use of the M1 ball, which created the space for Sam Smith to grab his second try of the night.
Half-time score a more comfortable 31-14.
The second half proved a more one-sided affair as the Greens ran away with the game, scoring at regular intervals. First Ian Close scored from short-range; Catley then profited from a break by Ardron; and on 60 minutes Smith secured his hat-trick much to the enjoyment of the crowd (his opposite number had given up trying to stop him by this stage).
Sam Mason then returned to the fray late on and was unlucky not to finish with a try of his own following his initial line break, but further scores from Rogers and Wareing meant the match ended 62-14. Credit should also be given to both David Wade and Andrew Bode who each put in 80 minute shifts and kept their opposite numbers quiet throughout.
With the semi-final draw a home fixture against Bradford &Bingley (to be played on Wednesday 29 April KO 7:30) the Devs are now within touching distance of ending their season with a place in the Plate final against either Yarnbury or West Leeds