After a lousy morning the skies cleared and stayed fine for an entertaining afternoon of rugby at Bradford Salem.
Wharfedale started strongly and soon got themselves on the front foot. An early break by impressive colt’s winger Otto Mallalieu-Black, who crashed into former Wharfedale player Dan Scarborough, set the tone. Another colt Morgan Davies then continued the move with determined running and resulted in Salem giving a penalty away at the resulting breakdown. The ball was confidently kicked to the corner and Tom Baines profited from the driven lineout with a try. 5-0 to the visitors.
Next, the ball was passed wide to rotund winger Sam Smith, who yet again surprised many with his pace, by beating his opposite man and running clear of the remaining defenders to score under the posts. Stand-in kicker Nick Taylor added the extras and we were 12-0 up.
Salem then launched an attack of their own but excellent defensive pressure forced an error. Matt Hall was quick to the loose ball and hacked on. Nick Taylor then kicked the ball further up field and won the race to touch the ball down. 17-0.
The men in green secured the bonus point after a kick ahead by Mallalieu-Black and the pressure of the chase forced a Salem error. From the resulting scrum, Taylor cut a line through the mid field to score his second and add the extras. 24-0.
The game was briefly stopped as no.8 Jake Starkey sustained a serious blow to the head. he took no further part in the game and was taken to hospital as a precaution but is OK and talking rubbish again.
The visitors then rounded off the first half with an excellent period of disciplined defence. Salem camped in our 22 for what seemed a fair while but, to a man, the defensive effort was outstanding. Eventually the hosts made a mistake and Hall was quick to pounce on the loose ball, kicking it further up field for Mallalieu-Black to chase, the winger again showing the pace to score and take the score to 29-0.
Salem started the second half well and pressured the visitors into giving away penalties. Eventually the pressure told when the strong running of their forward pack got them on the score sheet. 29-7. The home side were now playing with more confidence and seeing a lot more of the ball, but Wharfedale’s defence was again up to the task and denied them any more points. The men in green, on the other hand, were still looking to add to their total. A text book 8 – 9 – 15 move from the base of a scrum involving colts Morgan Davies and Will Lawn fed replacement full-back Sam Mason who put Mallalieu-Black clear for his second try. Taylor added the extras. 36-7.
Mason then grabbed a rare try of his own following a cracking phase of inter-passing involving several men to take the score to 41-7. Centre Mark Simpson then created the next. A neat chip over the top was re-gathered and fed to Taylor, who continued the move them passed to the supporting Michael Beer, who showed a lack of pace to score and was caught but Taylor was on hand to finish the move for his hat-trick and kick the conversion. 48-7.
The final score was Mallalieu-Black’s hat-trick but the match reporter has little knowledge of how it happened as he was busy watching an altercation in back play. Davies attempted the conversion, and, unsurprisingly, missed. Final Score 53-7.
Some outstanding rugby today, not least some of the periods of defence to keep Salem to only the 1 try.
Next Saturday, we host Huddersfield YMCA and a win would secure promotion.
1. Matty Close
2. Ian Close
3. Joe Jackson
4. James Ardron
5. Morgan Davies
6. Tom Baines
7. Matt Hall
8. Jake Starkey
9. Will Lawn
10. Michael Beer
11. Sam Smith
12. Mark Simpson
13. Nick Taylor
14. Otto Mallalieu-Black
15. Olly Cicognini
16. Jimmy Meehan
17. Dan Benson
18. Tom Wareing
19. Sam Mason
Mallalieu-Black (3), Taylor (3), Smith, Baines, Mason