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 ......

Wharfedale 6 Sedgley Park Tigers 15

On a grey, damp day Wharfedale showed excellent ball retention in the early minutes with penetrating runs by the effervescent Rob Baldwin, making a welcome return after we thought he had retired, and Matt Beazley. Over the match as a whole Sedgley Park emerged as the sharper in the backs with them using their talented wingers to cut angles and open up space.

It was a competitive game throughout in which the pre-match favourites were given a hard match by the home side. The visitors were always in front, but even in the later stages there was always a possibility that the Greens would cross the line, but it was not to be. Wharfedale played down the slope in the first half and started well with Tom Mann being just short with a penalty from the half way line. Young Ryan Hodgson making his seasonal debut after injury produced a wonderful try-saving tackle , but constant pressure from Sedgley Park, a kick to touch to within 10 metres and a rolling maul from the line out resulted in a well-deserved try wide out for Tane Bentley.

Mann kicked a penalty for Wharfedale on 28 minutes after good forward pressure led by Josh Burridge and Ryan Carlson, both of whom were prominent in a strong Dales forward effort, no mean feat against an impressive Sedgley pack. A feature on the half hour was a lengthy left-footed clearance by scrum half Max Bell and shortly after Josh Prell went tantalisingly close to an interception. A handling error 30 yards out by a Wharfedale forward led to what turned out to be a crucial try right on half time by Rhys Harrison. From wide out the conversion was missed. 10-3 was the half time score.

At the start of the second half Dale were under pressure but surviving. They were winning their share of possession but minor mistakes caused the ball to be given away. There was too much kicking tennis with no side gaining the ascendency, but then the Wharfedale backs attacked with promise going left, leading on 50 minutes to a second successful penalty by Mann to make the score 6-10. A Prell burst supported by the rampant Carlson and by Cicognini came to nothing and other promising opportunities were wasted through a lack of calmness at vital moments. A yellow card against a Wharfedale player and several penalties conceded ended with the conclusive try by the impressive scrum half Jacob Tansey. A third chance to add two points was missed by Steve Collins. The last 8 minutes showed Wharfedale at their best with a wave of attacks held at bay by an impressive rearguard action, proving why Sedgley Park are riding high in the Division. The nearest the home side came to a score was when Kaup-Samuels just failed to get over in the corner in injury time.

We in the Dales wish our visitors well in their quest to win the league, but Fylde’s performance at home to the Greens last week suggests that they may well be favourites to pip them. The Sedgley Park coach believes that his team’s set piece is a constant strength and that in every game they have had a winning opportunity. Turning the ball over has been a weakness, but the commitment and effort is there. As far as Wharfedale is concerned there is much cause for optimism as young players of quality are coming through such as Ryan Hodgson, Henry McNab and Louis Verity, a number of whom have been off due to injury. There is better news too of our centre James Coulton injured at Harrogate in early September.

The only concern is that too many of the second and third team fixtures do not take place due to the inability of the opposition to raise a team. It was, therefore, welcome that Sandal, after initially calling the match off, hosted the Foresters this week. Our second team won 29-6, scoring 5 tries and converting 2 of them.

Starting XV

Harry Bullough, Ryan Hodgson, Ben Blackwell, Oli Cicognini, Josh Prell, Tom Mann, Max Bell, Josh Burridge, Rob Baldwin, Ryan Carlson, Simon Borrill, George Hedgley ©, Matt Beesley, Ben Wright, Joe Altham

Bench

Matt Speres, Sam Dickinson, Ben Leacock, Omari Kaup-Samuels, Joe Fawcett.

Fabullous photos from ‘The Burridges’ of Saturday’s 1st XV #Nat2N Match against @SedgleyTigers are now available to view and download at  https://www.flickr.com/photos/128183691@N04/albums/72177720303302308   Lower quality images can be found at  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.824340525567733

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