Wharfedale travelled to Macclesfield looking for their first ever win against the Blues in Cheshire. After a fine performance against one of the top five teams in the league, Richmond, last week, it was important not to slip on the proverbial banana skin and give Macclesfield only their second win of the season and their first at home.
Dale dominated from the kick off and were only frustrated from scoring on two catch-and-drives by the referee’s interpretation of the law.
The first score however came after only eight minutes. Good work from Adam Howard forced a penalty which Tom Davidson drilled into the 22. Dale’s line out was purring and good ball was effectively used stretching the home defence and creating an overlap which allowed Josh Burridge to open the account with an unconverted try.
Macclesfield struck back soon after and some indifferent tackling allowed the Blues to develop a move and when they moved the ball left they outnumbered the defence and put Matt King over to tie the scores. Thomas Eaton failed to convert.
Wharfedale then seemed to lose shape and discipline and gave Macclesfield territory and possession. The home side spurned two kickable penalties as Dale received a couple of lectures from the referee. Dale had chances to clear their lines during this period but were guilty of putting pressure on themselves with scrappy play and not supporting each other.
The pressure was relieved after Macc missed a kickable penalty. James Doherty collected the 22 drop out and the ball found Tom Davidson who drilled the ball downfield. Full back, Rhodri Mayor, fumbled the ball and gave Dale an attacking five-metre scrum. The Green Machine got to work and after resets, penalties and a disallowed try finally got the reward they were looking for when Burridge scored his second try which Davidson converted.
Instead of shutting up shop for half time Dale were guilty of twice giving away 50 metres and giving Macclesfield an attacking platform. They were grateful for this and made Wharfedale pay with two tries. The first converted try was from Oliver Fewtrell and the second on the stroke of half time by Matthew King to give the Blues a surprising 17 to 12 lead at half time.
Wharfedale seemed to start the second half where they left off. A quick line out led to Taylor Prell being held up and a scrum to the Cheshire side. Dale failed to clear when a clearance was charged down in their own 22. This however was the end of the errors and Dale grew in strength from this moment on.
The visitors discipline improved whilst Macc were soon losing theirs leading to two yellow cards. The first on 47 minutes saw prop William Robinson was shown yellow and then after 57 minutes it was Oliver Fewtrell who took his place. Both were for repeated technical offences by the team.
Dale took full advantage of this period and scored 20 points which won the game and gave them a vital bonus point.
Tom Davidson slotted a penalty before Matt Beesley barged over for a try wide to the right. A superb conversion from Davidson gave Dale a five point lead. Davidson stretched the lead with another penalty to give Dale a good cushion.
Wharfedale’s best move of the game came from Lloyd Davies who collected a Macc clearance and tore through their defence. The ball was shipped to James
Doherty who nimbly rounded the cover to score by the posts. Davidson’s conversion gave Dale a clear lead and meant that Macc would have to score three times to win the game.
The visitors did their best to help them as they messed up the kick off and poor tackling allowed Rhodri Mayor to score a converted try.
Wharfedale created another chance to score but found two props in midfield who, despite their best efforts, did not have the pace to reach the line. Macclesfield desperately tried to run the ball but the visitors managed to stem the flow and enjoy a rare win in Cheshire.
Head coach Jon Feeley said “After an indifferent first half when we looked like we were living off last weeks victory, we showed far greater character in the second to seal a good win. That 20minute spell in which we scored tries through Matt Beesley, James Doherty plus Tom Davidsons kicks, was great to watch. We played with pace, direction and desire. If we can produce that standard of performance over 80 we can match any team in this division. The atmosphere after the game was somewhat subdued compared to the Richmond game, but that’s because these players set themselves high standards and they know they didn’t reach them in that first half. For me as coach, that’s encouraging because I know these young players are desperate to improve. But they shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Macclesfield were a very well drilled opposition and that’s the first time Wharfedale have won there”
Captain, James Doherty, was very pleased with the team’s performance in the second half. He had been “pretty upset at half time, especially with the defence” He went on to say ”the second half was a great contrast. We tightened up our discipline and our defence and we challenged across the park. We made good breaks and took our chances well”
Next week sees the last game of the first round of matches and the last home game of 2014. If you remember Esher’s visit to Wharfedale last season you will remember how important the crowd was in sustaining the Greens and pushing them to a fantastic victory. The Avenue needs the full array of supporters next week to push Dale to another fantastic victory. Also, it is the wheelbarrow raffle! Not the wheelbarrow itself of course but the contents. A massive amount of booze which will cover the Christmas period and beyond – so buy your tickets!! Beware last year’s winner, teetotal Adam Mason, will be away with the third team but has ordered his tickets.
Wharfedale: Taylor Prell; Lloyd Davies, Cameron Hudson (Huw Morgan 65), Tom Davidson, Oli Cicognini; Jamie Guy, James Doherty (c); Chris Steel (Joe Altham 52), Dan Stockdale (Ian Larkin 52), Jake Armstrong (Matt Beesley 32), Adam Howard (Jake Armstrong 61), Alex Powell, Dan Solomi (Chris Howick 55), Jack Barnard, Josh Burridge.