Wharfedale 27 – 17 Otley

Otley started the match in better shape than Wharfedale and took an early lead when James Wood broke from the ruck and had good support. The support with good off loads in the tackle put Luke Chadwick over the whitewash. Thomas Hodson added the extras. This was fair reward for the visitors who had pressed hard in Dale’s 22 and only resolute defence kept them out. Wharfedale failed to clear downfield during this period and this helped Otley to gain field position.

Phil Woodhead then started to influence the game and two sniping runs later Dale had a good penalty chance but the three points went begging. It was enough to spur the team on and some really good rugby followed. There was the odd embarrassing moment from the Greens but they were playing with verve and as a team.

The Greens opening try was a team effort started when Otley spilled the ball five metres from Dale’s line. Woodhead set up a ruck and then Scott Jordan passed to Josh Burridge, the ball went through the hands of George Hedgley before reaching Oli Cicognini. Cicognini easily beat the cover and was out of Dale’s 22. Bursting through the tackle of his opposite winger took him up to Otley’s 10 metre line. Good recycled ball then went down the line with forwards and backs joining in and an inside ball from Harry Bullough to Robbie Davidson quickly earned Dale a penalty. Guy put the ball in the corner and the forwards did the rest. Dan Stockdale saw a gap from the back of a rolling maul and touched down wide to the right. Jamie Guy landed a difficult conversion 4 metres from the right touchline.

Minutes later Dale had another attacking line out and almost got the rolling maul going but a careless mistake let Otley off the hook. A scrappy few minutes followed with both sides guilty of not looking after the ball.

Eventually Dale put some phases together and a successful penalty took them into the lead.

Wharfedale pressed again from the kick off refusing to sit on the lead with half time very close. Another Woodhead break only ended when the pass was knocked down, backwards, by Otley’s Paul Petchey. Petchey raced after the kick and caught Scott Jordan in possession. The Otley players followed up well and forced a penalty. Unprofessionalism saw the ref march another 10 metres and Otley opted for the scrum. After the usual resets they drove towards the line and when the front row collapsed Otley were awarded a penalty try. Hodson’s conversion ended the first half with Otley ahead by 14 points to 10.

Dale started the second half with more intensity and showing some variety in their game. A grubber kick from Scott Jordan pushed Otley back into their 22 and minutes later a crafty chip from Woodhead had the defence going the wrong way and Dale follow up to seemingly score an excellent try. The touch judge had however seen a knock on and Otley escaped.

The Green machine continued to dominate and Otley could only muster a strong run from Kivulu Tipilama which was stopped by a superb tackle from Phil Woodhead. Dale were rewarded when Tom Davidson ran a strong line and a timely off load saw Harry Bullough burst through. Bullough somehow magically got the ball to Robbie Davidson to score wide to the right. Another touchline conversion nudged Dale into the lead.

Three minutes later Otley’s Hodson brought the scores level with another penalty kick. Tom Whyte was again unlucky to be penalised. He was working tirelessly at the breakdown and this time was not supported when he turned the ball over and then found himself isolated.

More pressure from the home side was rewarded when Guy kicked a penalty. He then had a big hand in Dale’s third try. Forwards and backs again combined to put the visitors on the back foot. Two strong carries from Adam Howard and a sizzling run from Scott Jordan led to a well directed cross kick from Guy which was regathered by Robbie Davidson who scored his second try. A third touchline conversion followed from Jamie Guy to give Dale a more comfortable 10 point lead and a well deserved victory over their near neighbours.

Phil Woodhead and Jamie Guy both had strong games for Wharfedale with the scrum half getting the Man of the Match award for his contribution all through the match. Jamie must be congratulated as he did not have the best of starts and missed a moderately simple three pointer. He recovered and produced three excellent touchline conversions that had some of the crowd chanting “in Guyo we trust”. He also added strong tackling and a superb line break to his afternoon’s work.

The backs are often praised and mentioned in the reports but the forwards deserve high praise as well. The pack that Otley thought they could dominate, as they did in September, showed grit and determination and actually won the stats battle.

Scrums – Wharfedale 10 from 10 (inc 4 pens)
Otley 14 from 15 (inc 3 offences awarded to Otley at not set scrums)

Line outs – Wharfedale 15 from 17 (inc 1 not straight)
Otley 4 from 6

Great credit in the scrum to Thoms Asejevs and Joe Altham (and James Huck), in the line out to Richard Rhodes, George Hedgley, Tom Whyte and Josh Burridge. Not forgetting Dan Stockdale (who claims his try was from a rolling maul on half way and he beat 36 Otley players to score) and Ian Larkin. Adam Howard played a big part in the dominant showing in the second half with rollicking runs and added weight in the set piece. All players were evident in the tackle, at the break down, forcing turnovers and supporting attacks at crucial moments.

A superb Christmas present to the faithful who answered the call and made the Avenue feel like days of old. A crowd of 847 was rewarded with an entertaining match with Otley playing a full part in proceedings and earning respect by never giving up and wanting to run the ball from their own line to get back into the game. Let us hope that we all enjoy a super Christmas and that this leads to more wins in 2017. Hinckley away on January 7th is the start of the New Year campaign. It would be good to see the travelling faithfully pouring down the M1 to cheer the Green Machine on to a win.

Wharfedale: – Jordan, R. Davidson, H. Bullough, T. Davidson (Stockdale 73), Cicognini (Hodgson 49, J. Bullough 53), Guy, Woodhead, Altham, Stockdale (Larkin 59), Aseyevs (Huck 36), Rhodes, Ward (Howard 40), Hedgley, Whyte, Burridge (c),

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