With a number of senior players unavailable for this pre-season warm-up, the Wharfedale team featured an array of youthful talent, eager for the chance to impress selectors. Stourbridge, the National Two North promotion favourites, provided a combative test, which the Greens met with enthusiasm and were somewhat unlucky to suffer a narrow defeat.
The outcome of an even contest hinged on an opportunistic try by visiting winger Stefan Cooksammy early in the second half. With Wharfedale leading 7–5 and eschewing defence in favour of all-out attack, he collected a fortunate bounce inside his own half and sped clear to the left corner
The successful conversion made it 7–12. A few minutes later substitute flanker Dale Garner’s push-over try stretched the Stourbridge advantage to a 2-score margin.
The home side had the better of possession in the closing stages, skipper James Doherty’s second try of the game narrowing the deficit to 5 points with 10 minutes to play. The match finished with Wharfedale pressing hard, but Stourbridge stubbornly held out for victory
The first half saw pulsating end-to-end action. From the first whistle the Dalesmen surged forward. Prop Adam Howard secured the ball from the kick-off, and the platform was set for a determined assault on the Stour line.
Inside the opening minute a drive was held up over the visitors’ line. Two 5-metre scrums were repulsed, at the cost of a penalty. Another drive, from the ensuing line-out, and Doherty pounced for the try after his forwards had crossed the line. Tom Davidson converted.
The Stourbridge pack then dominated forward matters for a while, and might have expected more return from their work than the unconverted try scored by winger Tom Harris.
Reorganisation in the home pack evened things up, however, and defences held the upper hand at both ends of the pitch up to the break.
Wharfedale: Josh Prell; Matt van Siterma, Cameron Hudson, Tom Davidson, Oli Cicognini; Will Bell, James Doherty; Matt Beesley, Dan Stockdale, Adam Howard, Simon Willet, Richard Rhodes, Alex Powell, Tom Burridge, Josh Burridge.
Substitutes: Joe Altham, Jake Armstrong, Harry Bullough, James Otulakowski, James Druce, Jim Mason, Tom Whyte.