OTLEY V WHARFEDALE – FRIENDLY – 30 AUGUST 2014
On a fine day in West Yorkshire Otley started off the stronger looking side. They looked the more organised of the two teams on display. They justifiably took the lead when good handling led to a score wide out left by Jack Scott Paul which Stephen Depledge failed to convert. Wharfedale’s early attempts at moving the ball failed, players were not supporting each other and complicated moves broke down. Otley looked the more cohesive side for the first 15 minutes. There was strong running and good handling with players always in support. Add to this a lack of tackling by Wharfedale and it was no surprise that Otley were the first to cross for a score.
Dale began to look more organised and swift hands from Richard Rhodes put newcomer Cameron Hudson in for a try wide out on the right. Tom Davidson was more than a match for the wind and the angle and landed the conversion for Dale to edge ahead.
By half time Wharfedale had done enough to score two more tries and establish a good lead. Willet and Bullough getting the tries with Tom Davidson successful with two more kicks. Half time 5-21 to the National One visitors.
Playing with the wind in the second half Wharfedale began to dominate the match and began to play some fine rugby. Most noticeable was the ball handling skills of both forwards and backs and the support play needed to drive through Otley.
Otley started the second half well and attempted to play good open rugby only to be let down by mistakes. Dale were now beginning to play with cohesion. From a scrum on Otley’s 22 Rob Baldwin surged forward pulling in the defence and when the ball was spun to the left there was space for Tom Davidson to break through and score a try which he could not convert.
The rest of the half was full of play making from Wharfedale. From the restart Chris Howick ran the ball back supported by Howard and then Stockdale, Harry Bullough carrying on the attack. From a scrum on Otley’s 22 another team effort put Adam Howard in for another converted try.
Dale’s next three tries were inspirational. The first involved Harry Bullough looping and running good lines with support and slick handling putting Dan Stockdale over for another converted try. The second was truly a team effort with Josh Prell dancing out of defence to find a surging Joe Altham. Prell was on hand to move the ball forward again and more players were supporting with the ball passing through Burridge, Bullough, Howick and Oxley before Hudson crossed for his second try. The third saw slick handling from the forwards allowing Joe Altham to score a try. Davidson again slotted one from the tee.
What was missing was a Scott Jordan dazzler – this was the next try. Otley were forced to kick out of defence but the ball was fielded and Jordan had room to attack. He skipped, swerved and dodged his way to a splendid solo effort. Davidson sent the ball wide to miss the extras.
The final try was again a team effort but the scoring pass from Alex Powell was sublime and gave James van Sertima the chance to show he could finish well. Davidson missed his third conversion but a kicking record of 70% showed that he could be a useful asset to Dale this season.
Otley carried on competing until the final whistle and with players to return from injury will have gained a lot from this fixture. Wharfedale will have had a confidence booster but will need to improve some areas before taking on National Division One newcomers Hartpury College next week.
Wharfedale: -Jordan; Prell, Hudson, Davidson, Cicognini; H. Bullough, Doherty; Beesley, Larkin, Armstrong, Rhodes, Willet, Howick, Baldwin, J. Burridge Replacements van Sertima, J. Bullough, Powell, Oxley, Altham, Stockdale, Howard, T. Burridge
All replacements were used in the second half.