Wharfedale 19 – 29 Sheffield Tigers

Wharfedale’s brand of fast open rugby saw them take a 14 point lead in the first 20 minutes. Tiger’s, the 100th different league team to play Wharfedale, were allowed back into the game, and eventually win it, because of poor tackling from the Greens. Three of their four tries were the result of weak attempts by the Dale defence to bring their man down.

There could have been a plethora of tries in the opening quarter but Dale’s lack of passing and handling accuracy stopped them from scoring more. The first attack, in the second minute of play saw Tom Davidson split open the defence, but the scoring pass went astray. Minutes later a penalty kick to touch was sent deep into the visitor’s 22 by Jamie Guy. A catch and drive edged towards the line and then the ball spun wide and another scoring pass was spilled.

Josh Burridge scored for the Dalesmen, after 13 minutes with a solo burst from the 22. Jamie Guy converted. The Tiger’s restart went deep to Robbie Davidson. Davidson had space to build up speed and with a combination of pace, strength and footwork ran the ball up to Sheffield’s 22. Four phases later, when backs and forwards worked hard to drag in the defence, Robbie Davidson finished off a well-judged cross kick from Jamie Guy which had been collected by Harry Bullough. Guy converted again.

Robbie Davidson about to score

Robbie Davidson about to score

The first try from Sheffield happened when three tacklers failed to halt Steven Walker who opened the scoring for the visitors. This was repeated minutes later to allow Peter Swatkins to touch down under the posts. With Thomas Outram converting both, the scores were level. Tom Davidson took Wharfedale back into the lead with an unconverted try but Sheffield answered with a good handling move which put Henri Packard over. Outram’s conversion nudged the visitors into the lead at half time.

The second half was a tense affair but it was Sheffield who broke the deadlock with a well taken 43metre penalty shot from Outram. After an even more horrendous display of tackling Swatkins stretched the lead to 10 points with an unconverted try and a hard earned bonus point victory. The score could have been worse as from the Dale restart the Sheffield 15, Peter Swatkins, charged from deep into Dale’s 22. With a try looking certain he passed inside and found Alex Graham. A certain try was saved by Dale’s hooker, Dan Stockdale, sweeping back to make a magnificent cover tackle.

Dale were scoreless in the second half but there were chances to earn a bonus point. Hats off to Robbie Davidson who stepped up to take a long range penalty which was the last kick of the game, and would have earned the team a bonus point. He went close but not close enough. George Hedgley was frustrated when a good looking pass which saw him get a free run to the line was judged to be forward. A few muttered that the officials had been generous when the odd Sheffield pass was not correct and that nobody on or off the field had seen anything wrong – shades of the away game at Blackheath last season!

Don’t blame the officials for the defeat though. The problems have been evident for most of the season. The purple patches are not enough to sustain victories. The tackling and sloppy ball handling have outweighed the brilliant moments and led to the defeats.

The faithful witnessed another game where the Greens could have won. Sheffield provided a good test but a stronger spine would have stopped them in their tracks. Certain players held their hands up after the game and apologised for missed tackles. They had to be reminded that they may have missed the first tackle but there are 15 men on a team and Dale’s line will be exposed time and time again if the breach is not filled by the second or third tackler. At times the attempts at tackling would have embarrassed my grandmother.

The faithful will keep the faith and Dale’s attendance was the best in National 2 North by a long way. They will keep the faith because they are Wharfedale. It seems that some of the players need to also question their position in the club. They are the privileged few who are wearing the shirt at the moment. They are the privileged few that can boast that they have played for Wharfedale 1st team. They are the privileged few that can earn the admiration and respect of the faithful. At times last Saturday that was not happening. The shed shuddered at some of the rugby that was on offer. The shed shrank with horror when the green line was broken with such ease. There were occasions when the shed roared; when the Machine refused to surrender an inch and defended with determination and resolve. The last few minutes of the first half showed the best and worst of Dale’s play. The pack was magnificent and refused to budge, the line was held and the ball cleared only for the ball to be moved quickly and deftly by Sheffield down their left, in front of the shed, for a heart breaking score. The shed roared at the first two tries, delighted with a Solomian try from Burridge and were purring with Robbie Davidson’s run which led to his own try.

Scrums – Wharfedale. Won 5 from 5
Sheffield Tigers – 13 awarded. 12 won (incl. 2 penalties, 1 from a not set scrum) lost 1 (penalty awarded to Wharfedale)
Line outs – Wharfedale – won 6 from 8 awarded
Sheffield Tigers – won 2 from 4 awarded

Wharfedale R. Davidson; Wellock, Bullough, T. Davidson, Scott; Guy (Bell 53), Lawn; Larkin (Close 36), Stockdale (Larkin 69), Asejevs (Huck 35, Asejevs 70), Hedgley, Ward (Allen), Baldwin (c), Wilson (Hall32, Wilson41), Burridge.

The match photographs are available under the Photos tab. Follow the Link to Flikr Album.

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