Stourbridge 22 – 19 Wharfedale

Stourbridge 22 – 19 Wharfedale

In the warm sunshine of the West Midlands the management will have learnt a lot about the potential of many players old and new. Another defeat in a preseason game is not a pointer to the forthcoming season and there were plenty of positives to be taken from this game.

The line out was a vast improvement with Dale taking 85% of their own ball and keeping Stourbridge to a mere 56%. Simon Willet led at the line out taking three against the head on his own.

The Greens literally burst out of the blocks. A short Dale kick off was collected by George Hedgley and pressure put on the home defence resulting in a penalty. A kick to the corner was followed by a clean catch and drive and a score for Josh Burridge which Lloyd Davies converted.

Stourbridge responded with neat, unconverted, try when Joe Heatley followed up a grubber kick.

Heatley scored again when literally weak tackling allowed him to cross, some of the defence were in the gym taking selfies. Tom Mitchell added the extras.

Wharfedale finished the half strongly. Good handling from the backs set a penalty in Stourbridge’s 22.

The following line out was well won and 4 phases later saw Adam Howard literally crashing over for Dale’s second try. With Davies successful from the tee the visitors went in at half time with 12-14 lead.

From a Stourbridge five metre line out the ball was won by Dale but not cleanly and Richard Pennick was the first to react and dive on the loose ball to put Stourbridge back in the lead 17-14.

A try from promising prop Ali Wade put Dale ahead before Heatley grabbed his third and the winning try for Stourbridge.

Club skipper, James Doherty, reflected “Everyone was disappointed last Saturday obviously as the result didn’t go our way and we didn’t execute enough to put Stourbridge under much pressure. We have worked extremely hard in pre-season on some different things and yesterday we lacked a little bit of accuracy that meant things didn’t quite go to plan. We need to understand it is not all doom and gloom, keep the faith in how we want to play, and come back to training on Tuesday-Thursday to put it right against Tynedale in a couple of weeks leading into Coventry”

Head Coach, Tom McGee, added that another positive was that over 35 players got rugby and good game time, with George Hedgley, Ollie Fewtrell, Ali Wade, Ricki Cano, Maxime Labasse making their debuts. It was great to have long term injured Alistair Allen back and he came through well showing great keenness for the game.

He went on to say “We learned a lot from both games moving forward into our next 2 games v North Ribb & Tynedale. The attitude of the players and will to do well was evident to see, our approach this season with the squad we’ve got is to play a high tempo, movement based game with certain principles, structures and systems to fall back to when we need them, underpinned by a powerful, aggressive defence. The 3 areas from this game that we’ll focus on and look to improve on before our next match will be:

– Breakdown; where we were slow to get to the ball at times

– Defence; where we got short on the edges on occasion – developing that big hit mentality throughout the squad,

– Developing patience & control in our game; getting the balance right of playing quickly, but not rushing things to error.

I was pleased to see us trying to work the systems that we’ve implemented over the pre season, some which worked well and some that need a bit of tweaking here and there – it’s a case of tidying up our timings and execution, clarifying some game situations moving forward.

We picked up a few injuries early in the 2nd half which unfortunately had a knock on effect in the last 20 minutes where we would look to really kick on and freshen things up to keep the game speed high. (Players who played over 90 minutes in 2 games!)

We’d have loved to have won, but winning isn’t the measure of success for us this season, it will be how well we play, playing the way we want to play, nailing our game because we believe if we do that to our best the scores and results will take care of themselves”

Team: – C Steel, I Larkin, M Beesley, S Willet, J Mason, G Hedgley, J Burridge, A Howard; J Doherty, H Bullough; J Prell, O Fewtrell, C Hudson, O Cicognini, L Davies.

Replacements used – R Cano, D Stockdale, J Altham, A Wade, A Powell, W Bell and M Labasse.

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