Harrogate 7 Wharfedale 24

A match that started with a respectful silence to remember Harrogate’s faithful servant Bill Barrack and HRH Queen Elizabeth ended with Dale securing a second five-point victory. The travelling faithful were strong in number and were in good voice as Wharfedale started where they left off last week.

Early pressure saw a defensive kick being charged down in Gate’s 22 and Sam Gaudie reacted quickly to pounce on the ball for an unconverted score. More pressure from Dale reaped a couple of penalties and Tom Mann, making his first start at 10 in a League Match for Dale, soon had Dale deep in Harrogate’s 22. A superb catch and drive finished with Ben Wright grabbing his first try for the Greens. Mann slotted the conversion to give Dale a 12-point lead after 9 minutes.

More pressure from the visitors did not gain reward as mistakes were being made, a mixture of handling errors, kicks going astray and poor positional play. Gate very rarely got into Dale’s half and when they did they were soon pushed back. A knock-on gave them a scrum outside Dale’s 22; they just about secured the ball and then had 8 phases of play, but the strong tackling from the Green machine saw them going backwards to their own 10 metre line. Another mistake from Dale gave them another scrum on Dale’s 22. This time the result was another penalty to Dale’s dominant pack.

Wharfedale started the second half by allowing Gate to capture their kick-off and the home side pressed home the advantage. Six phases later William Hill burst from a ruck and crossed the whitewash. Rory McNab converted to bring Gate to within 5 points.

Dale soon responded. Harrogate were soon back in their own 22 and another clearance kick was charged down by Simon Borrill. Borrill followed up and regathered the ball and then recycled it. The ball was quickly and smoothly moved right into the hands of Josh Prell who scored wide to the right. Mann went close with the conversion but now Dale had a 10-point lead.

Mann came close a few minutes later with a 43-metre attempt. The ball hit the post and was then knocked-on by the defence to give Dale an attacking scrum. 4 scrum penalties were awarded to Dale as they pushed closer and closer to Harrogate’s line. The 4th penalty also saw a yellow card awarded to Tom Baxter. The 5th scrum saw Dale again driving forward and Harrogate collapsing. This time the referee went under the posts to award a Penalty Try.

Harrogate did now manage to get into Dale’s 22 and had attacking line-outs. They were thwarted by Simon Borrill who climbed high to claim the ball as though the ball was actually meant for him!

James Coulton was stretchered off with 7 minutes to go and after that the game seemed to lack any sense of urgency. All the faithful wish James a speedy recovery.

The rain was never heavy but there was enough moisture around to make the ball slippery and the flowing moves from Dale’s first game were often frustrated by handling errors.

Head Coach, Simon Verbickas, said after the match “Another great win; 5 points were asked of the lads and 5 points they delivered. Maybe we could have delivered it in a much better fashion; we have had a few changes during the week and also losing Ben Blackwell just before the game doesn’t help. 5 points is what’s most important and the fact that we have got a bit more strength in depth because we’ve tried another 5 players today that we didn’t try the week before. It is unfortunate about James Coulton and I and the team wish him all the best, hopefully he has a speedy recovery and is back to us as soon as he can”.

Dale now actually sit at the top of National League 2 North with two 5 point wins. Next week they face Hull Ionians who have also had two wins including beating Rotherham at Brantingham Park last Saturday. Last season saw two close games between the sides. At the Avenue it was 14 apiece and the match by the Humber, which was played in terrible conditions, was edged by I’s 10-3. It is hoped that the faithful will pack the Avenue and give the lads as much support as possible.

Wharfedale Bullough; Prell (Davidson 70), Canny, Coulton (Moore 73), Cicognini; Mann, Gaudie; Beesley (Altham 60), Wright, Dickinson (Beesley 71), Borrill, Hedgley (c), Stockton, Green (Speres 75), Burridge.

Thanks again to John and Ro Burridge for these photos of yesterday’s superb 1st XV #Nat2N match against  @Harrogate_Rugby  are available to view and download at   https://www.flickr.com/photos/128183691@N04/albums/72177720301997437

Lower quality images can be found at  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.7887972731275217

Managed by a ThriveWP care plan. ❤️