Richmond 34 Wharfedale 19
A disappointing first half saw Wharfedale concede five tries. The second half saw a transformation in the Green machine and they kept the Londoners out and scored two tries to bring some respectability. A fourth bonus point try looked on as Dale pressed hard in the closing minute but Richmond, conceding penalties and picking up a yellow card, held out with determined defence.
Richmond’s first half dominance was a mixture of strong forward play, good handling and running from the backs, and poor defence from some Wharfedale players.
Richmond opened with a walk in try from number 8, Chris Davies, which Rob Kirby converted. Wharfedale were profligate from the kick off giving Richmond an attacking scrum on Dale’s 22.
The ball won, Richmond moved left and were held, but Davies’s pick and go seemed unchallenged. With Harry Bullough being replaced because of concussion it was a bad 1st minute.
A penalty from Kirby, two more unconverted tries, from Jordan Burns and Kino Corradi, were added to give the home side a 20 point lead after 20 minutes.
Dale had only mounted one attack during this opening period. From the restart, after the successful penalty kick, Dale claimed the ball and moved towards the home line. Two successful line outs and a 5 metre scrum came to nothing and the final drive ended miserably in touch, and gave Richmond chances to clear.
20 points down and Wharfedale were awakened, briefly from their slumbers. A clearance kick from Richmond was fielded cleanly by Oliver Cicognini. A Solomi break was followed up by superb work from Lloyd Davies. Jack Barnard crossed for Wharfedale and Lloyd Davies added the extras to bring the visitors back into the game.
Dale seemed to have turned the corner. Richmond’s next attack was halted by a thumping tackle from Huw Morgan. The resistance was short lived.
Richmond finished the first half as they had started. Ross Jones-Davies and Jordan Burns touched down and with Kirby adding the extras Richmond went in at halftime with a justified 34-7 advantage. Richmond’s fourth and fifth tries were a delight and showed the visitors how to use the ball effectively. The forwards moved the ball and then it was quickly used for their half backs to find space to break through. It didn’t help that the visitors fifth mistake of the half was a kick off that did not reach the ten metre line!
Dale showed immense character to come out with a determined second half display. James Druce and Jake Armstrong, with Davies converting the second, touched down before the final desperate flourish. There were still mistakes but the penalty count swung in Dale’s favour. Eight out of nine line outs were successful and the only fault was a not straight decision from the ref.
The players that had erred in the first half were now showing that they were worth bringing down to the capital. The officials praised the Wharfedale coaching staff for the changes made at halftime that brought about the better performance.
The first try came after seven minutes. It was Richmond’s turn to give away territory and possession. A cross kick from Wharfedale just eluded them and went dead giving Richmond a 22 drop out. A quick attempt was fumbled and gave Dale an attacking platform. The scrum was solid and two phases later the ball was recycled quickly allowing space for Tom Davidson to put Cicognini over in the corner. With the Londoners making as many mistakes as the Northerners it was Dale who profited.
A weighted kick ahead from James Doherty was nearly gathered by Cicognini only for touchline to deprive him of the retake. Richmond messed up the line out and gave away a penalty. Davidson put the ball in the corner for an attacking line out. Six phases later Jake Armstrong wriggled over for a well deserved try.
From the restart Dale attacked, and breaks from Davies and Cicognini were followed up with a surge from Adam Howard. With the defence back pedalling quicker than an embarrassed politician a clumsy pass was thrown and the ball lost. The Greens then managed to turn the ball over but knocked on and then when Richmond pushed the ball into the visitor’s 22 the line out was not straight and gave Richmond a scrum. They were then awarded a penalty and sent the ball into Wharfedale’s 22. Had the Greens lost the plot again? Determined resistance was shown and eventually Dale broke free.
The last few minutes were all Wharfedale with every player getting involved and putting every last ounce of effort into getting another score. Sadly it was not to be. Dale came away without a bonus point but with heads held high and the respect of the opposition and their supporters.
Wharfedale: Lloyd Davies; Josh Prell, Huw Morgan, Tom Davidson, Oli Cicognini; Harry Bullough (James Druce 1), James Doherty (c); Chris Steel (Joe Altham 20, Chris Steel 41), Dan Stockdale, Jake Armstrong, Adam Howard, Simon Willet (Jim Mason 62), Jack Barnard, Dan Solomi, Josh Burridge (Nathan Myers 67). Replacement not used: George Altham