Wharfedale 26 Sheffield 22

Not a game of open fluent rugby but a match where both sides played hard and contributed to a thrilling match. Dale dominated the first half and deserved to be in the lead by 19 – 5 at half time. Sheffield then came out for the second half and came very close to winning the fixture but were left with two bonus points after a match ending winning try for Wharfedale.

Both Wharfedale and Sheffield 1st and 2nd Team squads lined up before the match to listen to Flowers of the Field, a lament in honour of the fallen, played on the bagpipes by Felix and Xander from Cargilfield School in Edinburgh. This was followed by a two-minute silence.

Good running and positional kicking by Wharfedale saw Sheffield pushed back into their 22 from the kick-off. Sheffield then went through 17 phases and eventually threatened Dale’s line before a strong jackle from George Hedgley forced a relieving penalty. A Cicognini break was swept forward by Omari Kaup-Samuels before a knock-on and offside gave Tom Mann a long-range penalty shot. The ball floated past the right-hand upright. The 22 drop-out was taken by Mann whose probing kick was regathered by Oscar Canny. Dale opened their account with a try from Josh Burridge after good work from Ben Wright and Harry Bullough. Tom Mann converted.

Sheffield were reduced to 14 men when Dominic Parsons was red carded for foul play. Sheffield were still able to mount an attack and 3 missed tackles allowed them to grab an unconverted try by Ianto Jones.

A cross kick (with a scrum penalty advantage) was collected by Harry Bullough who ran out of his 22. He passed to Kaup-Samuels who fed Oscar Canny. He ran a superb line down the left wing before feeding Bullough who crossed the line. Mann again added the extras. Dale’s third try came from a very efficient catch and drive with Ben Wright being awarded the score. No conversion but a good first half lead.

Sheffield opened up the scoring in the second half with another Jones try converted by Eliot Fisher. Will Taylor and Will Smith scored unconverted tries for Sheffield to put them into the lead 19-22.

Dale finally got their act together and applied good pressure in the Sheffield 22 before Matt Speres scored the winning converted try.

Sheffield did have a lot of possession in the second half but a lot of that possession was in their own half. Dale’s defence did creak at times but tackle after tackle was put in and they would not allow Sheffield to turn that possession into more points or territory. Sheffield may have gone home with a tinge of disappointment but how many times have Dale been on the receiving end of a last gasp defeat. Sheffield battled manfully with 14 men and certainly contributed to an exciting afternoon.

Ianto Jones and Rob Burrows were Sheffield’s outstanding players just edged to the Star Man award by Dale’s Josh Burridge. All Dale players gave strong performances again in a Green Shirt; Oscar Canny and Harry Bullough in the backs and George Hedgley, Rob Baldwin and Ryan Carlson in the forwards but I could really include the whole squad. We should be proud of the way that the Avenue roared the lads on to one last effort and the way that the lads never gave up.

Head Coach, Simon Verbickas, said after the game “I thought probably we were very lucky to win the game today. Our decision making in the first half was very good but fell apart a little in the second half but a win is a win. All credit to the way Sheffield played with only 14 men from the 5th minute of the game; they played 75 minutes a man light and still took the game right to the end. We needed the win and that’s what I asked for at the start of the game; we’ve got the win and now we’ll move on to our next opponents in a fortnight’s time”

Wharfedale Squad

Bullough; Kaup-Samuels (Hodgson 61), Canny, Cicognini, Prell; Mann, McNab (Bell 75); Beesley (G. Altham 52), Wright (Speres 70), Dickinson, Leacock (Green 40), Hedgley (c), Baldwin, Carlson, Burridge

More fabulous photos of Saturday’s 1st XV #Nat2N #YorkshireDerby against @SheffieldRUFC are available to view and download at   https://www.flickr.com/photos/128183691@N04/albums/72177720303643643

Lower quality images can be found at  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.849451452750196

Thanks as ever to Ro and John Burridge for taking and preparing these for all to savour…

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