On one of Wharfedale’s least happy hunting grounds came the usual result, but without the benefit of a soft interception try from the halfway line on 15 minutes it would have been a different match and probably a different result.
It had not started well: Cameron Hudson’s hand injury incurred the previous week had turned out to be a fracture, and Anthony Oxley had failed a fitness test; then the side’s attacking options were reduced when Scott Jordan felt unwell during the warm-up and had to be replaced after only twelve minutes. James Doherty had to be recalled to the colours despite the management’s preference to give him an extra week’s recuperation from his groin injury, Philip Woodhead moving to outside centre.
In the early exchanges Wharfedale’s self-control was fully tested when they were penalised four times in the first seven minutes; before they were awarded their own first penalty the count had risen to six plus a free kick. Only one these penalties resulted in a kick at goal, confidently converted by the home side’s 18-year-old rookie fly half Connon, who would not fail with an attempt all afternoon.
Wharfedale eventually managed to exert some pressure on the home side when a good break by Tom Davidson set up a long sequence of phases close to their objective, but Tynedale’s disciplined defence held out until an attacking scrum was awarded five yards from the corner. The visitors’ large following learned what kind of day it was going to be when referee Falla penalised the Green scrum apparently for deliberately wheeling the scrum, when all the attacking forwards wanted was a decent platform for a straight drive at the line.
In a match of few scoring opportunities and played mainly in the middle of the pitch, it was the home side which posed more threats, Wharfedale failing to take sufficient advantage when two Tynedale forwards were shown yellow cards in quick succession, the first a very soft dismissal for what the referee saw as a tip-tackle; Wharfedale immediately went for the jugular and pressure on the home line brought first the other yellow card, then the inevitable penalty try. But with only five minutes left to half-time it was the depleted home side who took the game to Wharfedale, playing with ferocious intensity to make sure that they conceded no more, to keep the half-time score to 10-7.
With Wharfedale chasing the game, gaps appeared but only once were Tynedale able to make them count, when scrum-half Outson finished a fine move to widen the gap to 17-7. They very nearly scored again, when what appeared to be two knock-ons went unpunished and the loose ball – always a most dangerous device – went to a Tynedale hand to set up a fine passing move stopped only by a cover tackle from nowhere by the increasingly impressive Matt Van Sertima.
In the face of resolute and courageous defence Wharfedale were able to exert few periods of sustained pressure, apart from the final period when they managed to force Chris Howick over the line, then went through multiple phases to put Oliver Cicognini in at the corner. In between, however, a long-distance penalty from the home fly-half had stretched Tynedale’s advantage by just enough to take the spoils.
The single bonus point was scant reward for Wharfedale’s discipline and hard work, particularly in the pack, in which Rob Baldwin’s work rate was once again outstanding; but the side’s lack of penetration behind the scrum and general game management is something which coach Jon Feeley knows must be addressed.
Wharfedale: Scott Jordan (Will Bell, 12); Matt Van Sertima, Philip Woodhead, Tom Davidson, Oli Cicognini; Harry Bullough, James Doherty; Matt Beesley (Joe Altham, 55), Ian Larkin (Dan Stockdale 49), Jake Armstrong (Adam Howard 60), Simon Willet (Jim Mason 68), Richard Rhodes, Josh Burridge, Chris Howick, Rob Baldwin.