Wednesday 24 April - Wharfedale 3rd XV v Ilkley 2nd XV (A) KO 6.30pm -------    Saturday 27 April - Wharfedale v Lymm (H) KO 3.00pm ---- Foresters v Sandal 2nd XV at West Leeds RUFC KO 3.00pm ......

Otley 25 Wharfedale 24

An exciting, enthralling game of rugby was won by a point by Otley at Cross Green. After the non-event the week before at the Avenue it was good to get back to seeing good quality rugby, played at pace and with all players committed to the cause. As one ex-player commented “There was more rugby in the warm up than there was in 80 minutes last week”. Otley may have had the edge in the scrum but the Wharfedale backs were beginning to show what they are capable of. Often the forwards joined in to produce flowing rugby which Otley struggled to contain.

Dale had the better of the early exchanges. The first of Rhys Green’s jackals led to good field position. A dazzling run from Tom Mann was followed up by Oscar Canny and great pressure was exerted on the Otley line. Otley were pinned in their half and a second jackal from Green meant that Mann could send the ball close to the Otley line for an attacking line. An efficient catch and drive was rewarded with a penalty try when it was halted illegally by Otley’s Elliot Morgan who was awarded a yellow card.

Four penalties, a lost ruck and a knock on from Dale gave Otley outstanding field position with a 5-metre line out. The initial catch and drive was held up but two phases later Otley stand-off Eddie Crossland cruised through for a try. Callum Irvine squared the match with his conversion.

More penalties were conceded by Dale and Ireland converted one to take Otley into the lead. The restart was claimed by Dale who then went through 5 phases and Ryan Carlson nearly crossed the whitewash with a penalty advantage waiting. The penalty was run and quick hands allowed room for Robbie Davidson to squeeze over. Tom Mann’s conversion ended the first half. Dale led 10 – 14.

Dale attacked at the start of the second half but a great run from Gaudie petered out in Otley’s 22. The game swung back in Otley’s favour after a touch kick was missed by Dale and two penalties later Otley had an attacking 5 metre line-out. Three phases later an unconverted try was awarded to Adam Malthouse to take the home side back into the lead 15 – 14.

Wharfedale responded and some great handling forced an infringement by Otley and Mann notched up three more points from the tee to take Dale back into the lead.

The best move of the game came just after the restart. Kicks were exchanged and then the Dale backs decided to run the ball. Oscar Canny started the move and Mann carried on. Quick recycled ball was then taken forward by Louis Verity. Gaudie was in support and so was prop Sam Dickinson who took the scoring pass and crossed the line. Dale led by 9 points.

Six penalties, two yellow cards (Hedgley on 65 mins and Beesley on 72) and a penalty try later the gap had closed to two points. The writing was on the wall and the ref knew the script and Otley were awarded a penalty in front of Dale’s posts to pinch the game. Dear reader, the decision for the last penalty is down to the ref’s interpretation of the law and he was obviously right because he was the ref. “It was never a maul because there was only one Otley player (the ball carrier) involved”.

The second game between these two sides this season that was decided by a single point in Otley’s favour. It was a very good game of rugby with opinion divided on who should have won. Otley supporters said after the game that the best team lost; who am I to argue; no Otley player or supporter however was embarrassed with winning. One or two Dale supporters thought that Otley had edged it because of their forwards being so dominant. The important thing was that rugby was the winner and it was fun to watch.

There were some solid performances by a vast majority of players wearing the Green shirt. One player I have not mentioned before is hooker Alfie Weston who played his first full game for Dale. He gave a very strong performance and was busy in all aspects of play. All the young backs played well and none better than Louis Verity at 10. Tom Mann now leads (according to Stato) the way in having the highest conversion rate for kicks at goal.

Before the main match Otley U13’s had a game. They were there to start off their campaign to raise money to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. One of the team’s mums, Caroline Cockrehan, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when she was 42. The team are getting underway with a whole gamut of sponsorship ideas included climbing Otley Chevin enough times to be the equivalent of going from Base Camp to the top of Everest.

Wharfedale Mann; R. Davidson, Walters, Cicognini, Canny; Verity, Macnab (Gaudie 40); Beesley, Weston, Dickinson, Stockton, Hedgley, Green, Carlson (Altham 72), Baldwin Replacements not used Hirst, Smith Jnr, T. Davidson

Fabulous TeamBurridge photos of Saturday’s 1st XV #Nat2N thrilling match against @OtleyRugbyClubare available to view and download at  https://www.flickr.com/photos/128183691@N04/albums/72177720307173350

Lower quality images can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/489145011182617

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