Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Wharfedale RUFC
8:12 AM 22nd January 2024

Match Report: Fylde 7 Wharfedale 24

Ed Williams has been reporting for the Yorkshire Times, part of the p.ublished group of online newspapers, on his local club, Wharfedale RUFC.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
Last Saturday’s result and double over Fylde was the first time it has happened in 15 league campaigns. These are the stats that gave the faithful joy at last. Fylde have dominated this cross-border battle since the teams first met in the Leagues in 1996. The score may have flattered Dale a fraction but the victory was well-deserved.

Fylde had plenty of possession and territory in the first half, with the wind at their backs, but the Green Wall never collapsed and it was Dale who made maximum use of their period of territory and possession in the middle of the half to cross the whitewash and go in at half time with the lead.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
Fylde had the best of the opening 10 minutes; 4 penalties helped them to set up camp on the 5-metre line but after a 5-metre line out, a good catch and drive and 7 phases, Dale forced a turn-over and cleared their lines. Dale then took charge and 4 penalties saw them deep in the home side’s 22. A tap and go from a penalty led to 6 phases and then a chip from stand-off Louis Verity was touched down by James Coulton. Sam Gaudie converted.

Penalties mounted for both sides in a no holes barred battle for territory and possession. At the end of the half, it was the visitors who had the best chance to score.

Good pressure from Dale led to a Yellow Card for Fylde’s Toby Harrison and a kickable penalty. The Yorkshiremen opted for a scrum and a planned move. The ball got stuck in the scrum and then chaos; for a moment it looked like the home side were going to break away and turn Dale’s good chance of three points into a try for themselves. Thankfully they messed up the chance and the players trooped in to the clubhouse.

The 915 who had turned up to watch a game of flair, speed and skill may have been disappointed but as a game of rugby this was a classic arm wrestle. A proper game of rugby where no quarter was asked for and none given.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
Fylde started the second half with 14 but the situation was soon reversed. George Hedgley took the naughty seat and Dale were now playing a man short. The situation then continued for 20 minutes as in this game of musical chairs Hedgley was replaced by Rob Baldwin. The seaside team took advantage of Baldwin’s absence with Valu Tane Bently crashing over. Gregory Smith added the extras.

A few minutes of ping-pong ended with two good kick chases by Dale which gave them a foothold in Fylde’s half. A successful line-out was then spread left for Rian Hamilton to have a run. He showed his pace and rounded the first set of defenders but his chip and chase was too long. A penalty advantage awaited and again Dale ignored the chance of 3 points and ran the ball. There were some good charges at the Fylde defence, especially one from Coulton, and after 14 phases it was Baldwin who dived over to break the deadlock. In Baldwin’s words he got the ball some distance out dummied two defenders, sidestepped another before carrying two (or was it three) over the line. Gaudie converted and two minutes later stepped up to land a difficult penalty which took Dale two scores away.

Fylde’s heads dropped a little and then their spirit was broken when the restart was sent into touch for a scrum to Dale on halfway. The scrum led to a penalty and a kick to touch. A good lineout was followed by 8 hard phases and then a line-break by Coulton for his second try. Gaudie was again successful from the tee making it 4 from 4 for the afternoon.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
This was 20-man rugby with every man taking his turn to tackle, get back up and tackle again and again. The players worked as a team; always in support and making it hard for Fylde to develop any shape or form. The back three did not see too much of the ball, but they were the strong spine of the defence. The players who came off the bench were just as important. Jimmy Meehan was straight into a strong tackle and Joe Fawcett provided the thumping tackle (as Fylde seemed to be getting back on top) which led to the ball being knocked on and good Dale possession eventually leading to Baldwin’s try.

A great day out at the seaside!

Wharfedale Hodgson (Darwin 72); Davidson, Coulton, Cicognini, Hamilton; Verity, Gaudie; Dickinson, Collinson (Wills 64), Armstrong (Meehan 78), Stockton, Hedgley (c), Green (Fawcett 67), Markey (Beresford 58), Baldwin