Wharfedale 24 Fylde 24
A brilliant rearguard action saw Fylde cling on for a draw. They had been reduced to 14 men for most of the match after a punch from full back Christopher Briers ended his afternoon. Starved of possession in the first half it was the devastating work of the Fylde backs that gave them a 24-7 lead at half time.
Wharfedale were often camped in the visitor’s 22 but when they spilled the ball they were punished. There was admiration from the home crowd as Fylde ran in two tries and slotted a penalty to break the deadlock.
Tries were exchanged early on with Chris Johnson crossing for Fylde and then Cameron Hudson finishing off a polished move for Dale. Johnson converted his own and Jamie Guy added the extras for Dale.
The White rose dominated but it was Fylde who scored with Warren Spragg and Ralph Downs finishing off excellent handling from the Lancashire side. Johnson converted one and Scott Rawlings the second before Johnson ended Fylde`s scoring with a penalty.
Wharfedale had most of the possession and territorial advantage in the first half. They failed to score because of mistakes in the red zone. Pressure had been brought to bear on Fylde from the kick off and after 7 minutes Scott Rawlings was yellow carded as Fylde’s repeated infringements became too much for the ref. From a successful 5 metre line out Dale managed to let Fylde have the ball and the chance to open the scoring was missed. This led to a period of Fylde possession and eventually a good run from their winger set up their first try.
The visitor’s second try came when Wharfedale dropped the ball in attack and the third from a very poor line out from Wharfedale. Both tries coming from moves started in their own half.
Dale started the second half with intent but it was the absence of tackling that allowed winger Oli Cicognini in for a try to which Guy did the honours. Dan Solomi turned the ball over in midfield and Dale learnt from Fylde and counter attacked spinning the ball wide to the left.
Dale had more chances to score. Taylor Prell crossed the line but the effort was called back after the touch judge ruled that the long, scoring pass had been forward. Minutes later what seemed to be a perfect cross kick, to an unmarked Cicognini, decided to bounce backwards towards the Fylde cover!
A penalty from Guy closed the gap to seven points before the Wharfedale pack drove over from the set piece, Jack Barnard being awarded the score. Guy coolly brought the scores level from the tee.
End of game, two points apiece.
There was some sense of disappointment from some spectators and players as this was another game that Dale could have won. With Fylde restricted to 14 men for 70 minutes of the game, with Wharfedale having at least 70% of the possession and territory, it was not difficult to understand that frustration. Fylde must be congratulated for their work rate and for the physical approach to the game, especially the ruck and maul where they were skilful at slowing the ball down.
It was encouraging to see Wharfedale’s backs grabbing two of the tries and playing with more authority. Jamie Guy was selected as Man of the Match for his control of the line, for his crucial 100% kicking record and for holding his nerve with the vital 79th minute conversion.
There were, however, too many mistakes. There may have not been as many in previous games but handling errors and poor execution at the line out at times cost the Greens dearly.
Coach, Jon Feeley, reflected on this by saying “The challenge is to convert more of the opportunities we create, especially in terms of cutting unforced errors, whilst limiting the opposition’s time in possession.”
He also added “To draw at the end of such an emotionally charged and incident packed game could feel like an anti-climax, and the players afterwards were very disappointed not to have taken the win. However, the facts are that at half-time we were 17 points down after twice being sucker-punched on the counter-attack. All credit to Fylde, they were clinical in punishing our errors from any part of the field. But the dressing room was determined to correct those errors and from that position to score 17 unanswered points in the second half showed some character. I am very proud of their efforts. The three tries we scored were clinical in terms of execution and our handling very good for both Cameron’s and Oliver’s tries as well as being finished by individual pieces of skill.
On the red card: Chris Briers is a talented player of good reputation whose actions were very much out of character. He is former team mate of mine, James Doherty’s and Rob Baldwins and to his credit was most apologetic after the game to all involved.
As it was Mark Nelsons last game in charge of his team at the Avenue before standing down, I would like to wish him all the best in his next endeavour. He is someone I have always enjoyed talking to and competing against.”
Skipper, James Doherty, added his thoughts “Firstly, a great game for a neutral, it was a tough, hard fought game that had a bit of everything. For the majority of the game we controlled the ball and territory, the first half saw them break away as they so often do in broken field. Our reaction in the second however is the most pleasing aspect of the game. A number of times this season we have been tested and we have often had a response. The attitude and effort shown to keep a spirited Fylde scoreless in the second half and to build a fightback in the manner we did is a testament to the resolve of our young side. Again the atmosphere today was electric, nothing beats hearing RIVER being screamed in the last minute of a game like today, the players feed off it and we will need you all again next week. Thank you.”
Wharfedale: Taylor Prell; Lloyd Davies, Cameron Hudson, Tom Davidson, Oli Cicognini; Jamie Guy, James Doherty (c); Joe Altham (Matt Beesley 46), Ian Larkin (Dan Stockdale 60), Jake Armstrong (Matt Freeman 31, Jake Armstrong 55), Adam Howard, Simon Willet, Jack Barnard, Dan Solomi, Josh Burridge (Jim Mason 55). Replacement not used: Josh Prell.
A selection of photographs is available under the Gallery tab near the top of this page.