A thoroughly enjoyable game at The Avenue in bright and breezy conditions saw the visitors, Luctonians, take the spoils 16 – 10. Wharfedale, despite numerous injuries, both prior to and in the game, were slightly unfortunate not to take something from the match but Luctonians, on the balance of 80 minutes, probably deserved to take the spoils.
The Greens, playing uphill and into a stiff breeze took an early lead when evergreen Stevie Graham crossed wide out to give Wharfedale a 5 – 0 lead. The resulting kick off resulted in a penalty for the visitors and Jones cut the lead to 5-3. Both sides were playing a fast, open game and a further penalty to the visitors saw them gain a foothold in the Dale 22. Bullocking runs from the Luctonian forwards made space out wide for winger Bengry to score.
Wharfedale came back strongly with Canny and Blackwell to the fore. Fast hands out wide followed by forward drives saw Joe Altham cross the whitewash. 10 – 8 to the home side after 14 minutes. The loss of Jack Blakeney-Edwards on top of the mountain injury list caused disruption but a further indiscretion gave Jones the chance to put Luctonians in front 11-10
A turnover in midfield saw Luctonians once again on the offensive only to be halted by a knock on from Bullough which resulted in him seeing yellow/ The catch and drive from the resulting line out saw the visitors steamroll over in the corner. Hooker Link appeared from the bottom of the melee to claim the points. Luctonians continued to play an expansive, open game and only their mistakes and heroic Wharfedale defence kept the men from Herefordshire slightly in front at 16-10 at half time
The second half started with Wharfedale looking dangerous, but mistakes in midfield let Luctonians back into the game. A run from the impressive Canny put Dale on the front foot again as both sides continued to test each other out. Good, intelligent kicking from the Luctonians fly half, Jones, kept the visitors back in Wharfedale territory but the visitors were unable to find a way through the home side defence.
A break from deep inside their own 22 saw Blackwell put Viner into space. He was well supported by Canny and only foul play, resulting in a yellow card for winger Bengry, stopped the momentum. Strong attacking defence from Wharfedale kept Luctonians pinned in their own territory and it was only frenetic defence from the visitors that kept Bullock, Moore and Blackwell at bay as they looked for all money like scoring.
Both sets of players gave 100% and, despite a scoreless second half, the entertainment provided for the 324 present was greatly appreciated as Luctonians returned home with the win.
The Wharfedale coaching staff can take great heart from the commitment showed by their charges and the appearance of skipper for the day, Matt Beesley, at the unaccustomed position of No.8 was a real positive as he led the side manfully.
Wharfedale : H Bullough, O Bullock, B Blackwell, J Moore, O Canny, J Blakeney-Edwards (B Viner 23), H McNab: J Altham (G Altham 62), S Graham, S Dickinson (J Hirst 71), S Borrill, R Green, R Carlson (J Fawcett 40), M Mountain, M Beesley (capt): Unused replacement. O Kaup-Samuels.
Wharfedale: Tries :- Graham (3), Altham (14), Conversions :- 0, Penalties :- 0.
Luctonians: Tries :- Bengry (10), Link (34), Conversions :- 0, Penalties :- Jones (5), (30)
Star Man :- Aiden Cheshire (Luctonians)
Referee :- James O’Brien
Half Time :- Wharfedale 10 Luctonians 16
Attendance :- 324
Photos of today’s 1st XV #Nat2N match against @Luctonians are available to view and download at https://www.flickr.com/photos/128183691@N04/albums/72177720296982808
Lower resolution images can be found at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.634550487652223