22 August - Foresters 14-6 North Ribblesdale ----    24 August - Blaydon 34-24 Wharfedale ----

Ealing Trailfinders 78 Wharfedale 12

After a rather protracted journey on various trains Dale made a good start and had the better of the early exchanges pushing Ealing back into their 22. An attacking line out was lost and Ealing soon had their first score when Luke Daniels burst through a gap to touch down. Ben Ward added the conversion. Ealing dominated possession and territory for the next 20 minutes in which time they scored four more tries. With Ward slotting three kicks it took the score to 33-0. The tries were a combination of strong back play and organised forward play with the scores awarded to Arthur Ellis (2), Phil Chesters and Daniels getting another.

Dale’s best period of the game followed and Dan Solomi ran in a trade mark try from outside the Ealing 22 and Jack Barnard scoring Dale’s second just before half time, James Guy converted the second try. In between the Wharfedale scores Ealing added a sixth try which was a hat trick for full back Daniels. Ward’s conversion took the score at the interval to 40-12.

Any hopes of a second half recovery were soon ended with two yellow cards after 6 and 7 minutes. The first for foul play was given to Adam Howard and Jake Barnard soon followed for a technical offence.  

Ealing went on to score another six tries in the second half. Tom Brown, Phil Chesters, Alex Walker (2), Alex Bradley, Anders Nilsson were the scorers with Ward converting three to make the final score 78-12.

Dale journeyed home bruised and battered but the faithful who had made the trip to the capital were full of praise for the way the Greens stuck to their task and never let their heads drop.

Wharfedale had come up against a powerful, well drilled and professional side. Add a touch of cynicism and skilful bending of the laws to a near faultless display of handling and the Greens did well to keep going. They did have chances, when restored to 15 men, in the second half, to add the two more tries needed for a precious bonus point. It was at this point that even luck seemed to be on the side of the league leaders. Chances were created by Dale but the final, possibly, scoring pass went wrong and Ealing soon countered.

The Ealing pack was very impressive. The rolling maul was ruthless and efficient and, to a neutral, was a joy to watch. After their first two line outs, which Dale won, Wharfedale’s line out was dominated by Ealing. The same happened in the scrum with the Green machine spending a lot of the afternoon in reverse. Trailfinder’s line out was another example of how well drilled they were, every ball taken cleanly and effectively. The backs were bigger, stronger and fitter, and the return of Luke Daniels has given them an extended attacking option. He scored his three tries with an ease that belied the artful way that the chance had been created, and his timing at coming into the line was exceptional.

Jon Feeley summed up the day by saying “Ealing were bigger, stronger and faster than we were. Their experience told as our inexperience in dealing with their ‘clever’ play around the ruck left them able to slow our ball and speed up theirs. We played for 75% of the game without the ball against a professional team who were ruthless, taking every half chance they were offered. It wasn’t down to a lack of effort, our boys gave everything and afterwards in the dressing room they were hurting a great deal. It was a good learning experience of how the game can be played in a full time environment.

There are two ways we can now go, we can hide, or we can learn, be better for the experience  and move onto next week. We’ll do the latter.”

And skipper, James Doherty, said “A very tough day, hard to take at times and we are hurting as a side. We know the performance was not good enough and there needs to be a transformation for next week.

With the ball we were dangerous. When we did keep hold of the ball we caused a good side some problems and created opportunities. However without the ball we were second best, they were bigger stronger faster and deserved their win. 

Our attentions turn swiftly to next week, it’s the great thing about sport, an opportunity next week to put things right.

Thank you to all the travelling support as always, let’s hope for a packed avenue at the weekend.” 

Wharfedale: Taylor Prell (Josh Prell 30), Lloyd Davies, Cameron Hudson, Tom Davidson, Oli Cicognini; Jamie Guy, James Doherty; Joe Altham (Matt Beesley 33), Dan Stockdale (Ian Larkin 33, Dan Stockdale 46), Jake Armstrong, Adam Howard (Alex Powell 74), Alex Powell (James Tyson 51), Jack Barnard, Dan Solomi, Josh Burridge. Replacement not used: Chris Steel