Wharfedale fought hard for eighty minutes in this closely contested battle on a day full of mistakes from both sides. Blackheath deserved the win but it was disappointing that the trip south saw Wharfedale return without a point. Having been denied a penalty try last week it was the referee running under the posts for a penalty try that gave Blackheath their third score and denied Dale a bonus point.
The Green Machine matched the Club forwards shove for shove but it was strong running and good support play of the home backs that proved to be the decisive factor.
As in the last few weeks Wharfedale started well and should have taken the lead but a fairly easy penalty kick from James Guy drifted just wide.
Blackheath also missed a penalty before building through the phases and creating an overlap wide to the left putting Benjamin Summers in for the first try.
Dale dug in and were only undone by a fine break from Michael Canty who extended the lead to 10-0 at half time with an unconverted try.
Club opened the scoring early in the second half when Dale were adjudged to have done something wrong at a scrum and referee, Fergus Kirkby, awarded a penalty try which Ryan Squires converted.
Dale did not wilt and dug deep to come back into the game. Lloyd Davies sent a well weighted grubber kick through and Oliver Cicognini touched down. James Guy added the extras.
The most thrilling part of the game came in the last few minutes with Dale using every ounce of effort to try and close the gap and Blackheath were striving for a bonus point fourth try.
There were strong performances from many of the visiting players. The whole team worked to hold the line and the defence often made up for mistakes in ball handling. Cameron Hudson stood out in the back line as he managed to put Club on the back foot. Lloyd Davies was solid at full back and James Doherty led by example.
The forwards carried on where they left off last week in the game against Coventry. Josh Burridge’s work in the line out and at the back of the scrum was excellent, Adam Howard, Jake Armstrong and Dan Solomi all made their presence felt. The work of James Tyson in defence and winning turnovers made him the Wharfedale Man of the Match. A choice that the small army of ex-players agreed with.
The match was very similar to last week. James Doherty said that “he was very disappointed with the result” as he felt Wharfedale were “worth more”. He went on to say that there had been a “huge effort from all involved, some great character shown and we are making good strides with our performances. We just need to find ourselves on the right side of the result” thinking of next week, at home to Rosslyn Park, he added “we don’t need to make many changes. We will need to work hard during the week and fly into rugby practice” He finished by thanking the travelling support and saying “let’s get the Avenue noisy on Saturday”
Coach Jon Feeley commented that the result was a tough one to swallow, seeing his young side work so hard for no reward, but that he could not have been prouder. He particularly praised the defensive effort around the ruck and set-piece where Blackheath’s bigger forwards could find no way through. Jon paid special tribute to skipper James Doherty, who “is leading the side superbly” and expressed confidence that, with the young players delivering such performances, the results will start to come. Looking ahead to the next difficult fixture at home to high flying Rosslyn Park, Jon drew confidence from recent performances which have shown that the squad can compete with the best in the league particularly at the Avenue with the crowd behind them.
Wharfedale: Lloyd Davies; Josh Prell, Cameron Hudson, Tom Davidson, Oli Cicognini; Jamie Guy, James Doherty (c); Joe Altham (Matt Beesley 53), Dan Stockdale, Jake Armstrong, Adam Howard, Alex Powell (Matt Freeman 74), James Tyson, Dan Solomi, Josh Burridge.
Replacements not used: Tom Baines, Nathan Myers, Harry Bullough.
A selection of photographs as usual appear under the gallery tab at the top of this page.