Blackheath 27 – 24 Wharfedale

A thoroughly deserved victory in the capital looked on for Wharfedale as they dominated most of the second half. Instead of getting a bonus point fourth try it was Club that levelled the scores with a well taken try by Simon Whatling which was converted by Fred Gabbittas. It was Gabbittas who stepped up and finished off the visitors with a 45 metre kick to steal the points for Blackheath.

Gabbittas opened the scoring with a penalty after 10 minutes. Chris Sewell finished a clever blind side move for the Londoners but Gabbittas failed from the tee.

Dale closed the gap with a catch and drive which saw Chris Howick awarded the try, Jamie Guy slotted the two. A further brace of Gabbittas penalties gave Club a seven point lead.

Quickly recycled ball after a break by Huw Morgan gave Ian Larkin the space to go over and with Guy adding the extras parity was achieved at half time. 14-14.

Gabbittas edged Heath in front with another penalty before Dale started to really exert pressure. Another catch and drive gave Howick a second try. Guy added the conversion and a dropped goal meant that Dale had a seven point lead.

Dale were congratulated for their standard of play and although the ending was heartbreaking this was a superb performance by the Green Machine.

Blackheath were entertaining Wharfedale after two massive wins against big spending Championship hopefuls Ampthill and Coventry. It needed all the squad to be on form just to match this London outfit. By half time there was a real belief that Dale could win the match. They had done enough in the first half to go in all square at least. They came out full of ambition, full of commitment and should have and could have won. Apart from the very odd Blackheath supporter most of Club were full of praise for their visitors. Some went as far as to say that Dale were perhaps the best all round team they had played this season. High, high praise indeed.

Justified? (In my humble opinion) This was one of the strongest displays by a team wearing the green for a long time. There were mistakes; two ambitious passes led to attacks grinding to a halt. Blackheath’s tries were clever but maybe a more mature side would have stopped the first when, with a scrum nearly in the middle, Blackheath lined up with a 4 and 2 back formation with their full back on the left wing. This led to an obvious blind side move in plenty of space as an overlap was already there. The Club number 6 simply joined in at the last minute to score. The second was created when our defence was sucked in and left a huge overlap. Nit picking – yes, but a performance like this deserved more. The Yorkshire side deserved a full five points for this exhibition and, unlike Scotland, cannot, and I hope will not, blame the ref for the ending.
The game should have been out of reach and the trip home for the players and supporters a totally joyous affair.
Wharfedale Head Coach, Tom McGee, commented that it was a “Great game of rugby. We showed our qualities as a team. The physical challenge is set down when you face Blackheath. They have been dominating teams through their power game this season. We had to be smart tactically but we went after them in the set pieces, in our defence, with our kicking game which got us joy.
The game was marginal, our attack shape again was good, we’re still missing that extra pass and at times finding our strike players on the edges, when we find those moments consistently we’ll be a proposition.
Rugby can be tough in many ways. To go from a position of getting a 5 point win to losing and only picking up a point in 30 seconds is a tough one to take. Credit to the Blackheath No.10 in knocking the kick over from 45 metres in the last play of the game. However we put in a performance that gave us the chance to win and that’s what we’ll keep our focus on.
The attitude and mentality in which the guys have approached the last 2 weeks has been superb. We’ll need to continue that focus at home this week against a quality Ampthill side who are going well in the division.”

Team: – M. Labasse; D. Tai, C. Hudson, H. Morgan, M. van Sertima; J. Guy, J, Doherty (c); J, Altham (R. Cano 76), I. Larkin (D. Stockdale 51), A. Wade (C. Steel 31, A. Wade 76)), J. Mason, G. Hedgley, J. Burridge, C. Howick (N. Myers 69), R. Baldwin.

Replacement not used : – W Davidson.

A selection of photographs is available under the Photos tab.

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