Wharfedale 38 Rotherham Titans 19

Another great game at the Avenue on a warm (for April) day. Wharfedale won this encounter by scoring 4 tries to 3 and also grabbing 20 points from the boot of Tom Davidson. Josh Burridge was awarded the Star Man for his general play but also for his leadership in steering the younger players through a difficult match.

Wharfedale had the best of the opening minutes and showed domination at the scrum by driving Rotherham back and earning a penalty in the 5th minute. A couple of slightly not straight line-outs hindered progress. But the Rotherham scrum following a not straight decision was ruthlessly driven back and Dale had another penalty. From the ensuing line-out Dale put some good phases together which forced a mistake from the Rotherham centre – a deliberate knock which was rewarded with a 10-minute rest. Davidson opened the scoring with the penalty.

The restart was safely dealt with before an angled kick from Tom Davidson was recollected by Rian Hamilton. Rhys Green was on his shoulder to take the move forward and then he fed Ryan Carlson who glided over for a converted try. The first of many outstanding moves by the Green Machine.

Rotherham made good use of the breeze and a 50 – 22 gave them an attacking platform.  Rotherham got on the scoreboard with a good run by James Cooke who offloaded to Connor Field who had a walk-in try.

Dales next try was a thing of beauty with good hands creating space for Oliver Cicognini to score. From a scrum on the visitor’s 10 metre line the ball was sent left by Blakeney-Edwards. Beau Verity and Ben Blackwell ran superb dummy lines and Rian Hamilton joined the line from right wing. He fed full-back Harry Bullough who had also joined the line. Bullough fed Cigognini, whose speed and strength took him over the whitewash.

Rotherham hit back very quickly with a try from Zakery Poole. The try came from 5-metre line-out which Dale did not contest. Rotherham’s jumper, Poole, kept the ball at the front and they strolled over for an easy try. Joseph Carlisle’s conversion left the score at Wharfedale 15 Rotherham 12 at half time.

Davidson added another penalty before Dale really opened up and stretched the score to 35 – 12 before Rotherham got on the scoreboard again.

Rotherham were getting a little frustrated. They did have 8 phases but didn’t make ground before knocking on. They conceded a penalty and Davidson sent the ball 60 metres deep into their 22 for an attacking line-out. Madison Hunting capped off another 1st class performance with a try, a surging run from the hooker took him close to the line and then 3 phases later he burrowed under bodies to score.

More frustration from Rotherham as they collected the restart but another 7 phases without getting into Dale’s 22. An alert Stockton then pounced on an interception and tore downfield. Dan Stockdale was on his shoulder and took the ball into Rotherham’s 22 before offloading to Rian Hamilton. This was Hamilton’s 22nd try of the League season which makes him Dale’s leading try scorer for a season. It also meant that Dale were now 20 points clear with only 10 minutes left. Davidson had added the 2 conversions and another penalty.

The visitors got a late converted try from ex Wharfedale favourite Harry Dunne and Davidson added another penalty to round off an entertaining afternoon.

Wharfedale have finished strongly and can look forward to building on this next season.

The match was a fitting tribute to the two Wharfedale coaches, Jon Feeley and John Skurr, both Rotherham old boys, as this was their last game in charge at the Avenue. Jon Feeley said of the match “The most complete performance of the season. For 80 minutes I watched a team who have grown so much over the last few years, I am so very proud of them. We were tested and bloodied at times, but I always knew we’d come through. It’s a very rare feeling but I reached a point of calmness and complete faith because I’ve seen them develop and learn to adapt and overcome adversity. The ovation at the end said it all. Thank you all the supporters, sponsors, volunteers, coaches and medics for your support this year. But most of all thank you to all the players who continue to represent the club with such pride. I look forward to seeing Cabbage’s men complete the job on Tuesday!”

The Foresters also won last Saturday beating Sheffield in the Yorkshire Merit League – Premiership Final at Pontefract RUFC.

Wharfedale Bullough; Hamilton, Blackwell (Stockdale 62), Verity (Moore 55), Cicognini; Davidson, Blakeney-Edwards; Altham, Hunting (Blackwell 68), Dickinson, Stockton (Beesley 48), Green, Carlson (Hedgley 32, Stockton 55), Pinder (Thompson 63), Burridge (c)

Photos of the1st XV #Nat2N match against @RotherhamRugby are available to view and download at  https://www.flickr.com/photos/128183691@N04/albums/72177720298545321

Lower quality images can be found at  https://www.facebook.com/media/set?set=oa.704491820752618

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