Wharfedale 23 Rotherham 29

Not the greatest of matches but what it lacked in flowing rugby it made up with a very tense game with Rotherham running out winners with the last move of the game.

Tom Mann opened the scoring with a well taken long range penalty into the wind.

A break from Jack Hedley was finished off by Sam Veall to get Rotherham on the scoreboard and take the lead. Rotherham then pressed again and after 15 phases spread the ball left for Jack Taylor to squeeze over in the corner. An excellent conversion from Richard Hayes gave them a 9-point lead. He extended the lead from the tee with a penalty. Mann notched another penalty before Wharfedale hit back with pressure of their own and a try, on the stroke of half time from Josh Prell. Mann’s conversion left Dale trailing by 2 points at oranges. Prell’s try was the reward for great pressure poured on the Rotherham line. The visitors defended as best as they could but full marks to Prell who carried two defenders with him over the line.

Dale started the second half with a catch and drive with Matt Speres grabbing the honours. No conversion but Dale now edged into the lead. This was just reward for some good play by the Greens. The catch and drive was superb against the much-vaunted Rotherham pack; a well-rehearsed line-out switch from the jumper, Josh Burridge, to George Hedgley worked and then the Green Machine drove forward.

This period of domination ended when what looked like a great clearance from Dale’s 22 just reached the dead ball line and it was all the way back for a Rotherham scrum. An inch shorter, one less roll of the ball and Rotherham were pinned back. The visitors attacked and soon had an attacking 5 metre line-out. Simon Borrill nearly grabbed the ball but Rotherham pressed again. Rotherham retook the lead after 7 pick and goes with a converted try from Zakery Poole.

Dale absorbed some more pressure and managed to clear their lines. Josh Prell was very close to catching an interception and breaking away. The knock-on gave Rotherham the put-in on half-way; always a danger as scrum penalties were becoming a bit of a lottery. Despite going backwards Dale were awarded a penalty. A great touch from Mann gave Dale an attacking line-out 7 metres from Rotherham’s line.

Another catch and drive from Dale came close to the line and then the ball was spread left and Zakary Robbie Davidson’s offload sent Prell over for a second score. No conversion but Dale were back in the lead.

Another scrum followed and another scrum lottery with Dale, on their own put in, adjudged to have stepped back!! A last-minute penalty from Rotherham hit the post and Dale seemed to have survived as they gathered the rebound. Somehow Rotherham snaffled the ball after Dale’s Ryan Carlson had gone to ground and the referee had shouted let go. 10 phases later Sam Veall crossed in the left corner for a converted try which left Rotherham with a win.

Wharfedale Head Coach, Simon Verbickas, reflected after the game that he was “devastated with how the match ended. Controversial decisions cost us territory and possession”. He was equally as devastated “for the players as they had played their hearts out and left nothing on the pitch”.

The players should not be downhearted with this performance; they came up against a very strong Rotherham side with promotion intentions and nearly, very nearly clung on to win. Yes, it was heartbreak hotel time but this squad of players should be proud of their efforts. They showed pride in the Green Shirt and it is an honour to be associated with them.

Rotherham Head Coach, Adam Byron, said after the game “I have just said to the boys that you can’t bottle that sort of feeling, obvious elation when you win a match two or three minutes into extra-time. I couldn’t be happier with them for the way they stuck in. They all know there are aspects of the game that we need to work at and improve on but that kind of feeling at the end and the spirit they showed to stay in the game; I’m really proud of them all”

Wharfedale have a weekend off next week before taking on Tynedale at the Avenue on Saturday 15th October, KO is 3pm.

Wharfedale Bullough; Darwin, Prell, Cicognini, R. Davidson,; Mann, Kaup-Samuels (Bell 71); Beesley (J. Altham 34), Wright (Stockton 68), Dickinson (Hirst 39, Beesley 63), Borrill, Hedgley (c), Carlson, Fawcett (Speres 34), Burridge.

Photos of the thrilling 1st XV #Nat2N Yorkshire Derby against  @RotherhamRugby are available to view and download at    https://www.flickr.com/photos/128183691@N04/albums/72177720302562307

Lower quality images can be found at  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.1555299171554257 

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