Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Wharfedale RUFC
4:34 PM 5th February 2023

Match Report: Rotherham 20 Wharfedale 27

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
Rotherham won their first ever match at the Avenue early this season and Dale balanced the books by winning for the first time at Clifton Lane. Not too many of the faithful made a second trip in a fortnight down the M1 but Dale were well represented and vocal; having to compete at time with the chant of “Rothram”.

Both teams were forced to make changes as this was technically a “free weekend” and quite a few players on both sides had taken the opportunity to book holidays. This gave a chance for players to step up and show what they could do. The Dale players did not disappoint. Captain for the day, Rob Baldwin, led by example and exhorted and encouraged the best out of the team.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
Dale opened strongly and could have opened the scoring when Eliot Stockton went over the whitewash, sadly the referee did not see the grounding so it was back for a Wharfedale penalty. Tom Davidson’s shot at goal slipped past the post.

Dale were starting to play good possession rugby and went through 7 phases in Rotherham’s 22 before losing the ball. The Titans broke out of defence and nearly scored but could not reach the line. Minutes later a cross-kick was re-collected by Rotherham and Richard Heyes touched down for an unconverted try.

“I think the score-line 27 – 20 was a really well-deserved result for Wharfedale.
Dale finished off the 1st half strongly, playing some efficient and accurate rugby. Davidson nailed two penalties which took Dale into the lead. Rotherham did have the ball during this period but could not make any impact on Dale’s defence. This was epitomised by the passage of play when they had a scrum on Dale’s 10 metre line and went through 11 phases without making progress and ended up kicking the ball into Dale’s 22. The ball was marked and then run out by Oscar Canny. His speed and ability took him deep into the opposition’s half. Rhys Green was in support and had the speed to beat the cover and touch down. Davidson added the extras.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
The Titans did mount a strong assault on Dale’s line but the Green Machine did not give way and the 1st half ended with the visitors leading by 8 points.

The second half started with Dale giving away penalties. Hayes converted one to close the gap. Wharfedale soon sparkled again when a break was made by Henry Macnab, Josh Walters took the attack forward before effecting an amazing off-load back to Macnab who ran to the whitewash for a spectacular try. Davidson was again successful from the tee.

Rotherham’s main success was from the driving maul and this led to their 2nd try after 11 phases in Dale’s 22. The try was scored by Luckas Sableman-Blue and converted by Hayes.

Dale’s willingness to run the ball was paying dividends. An attempted touch kick from a penalty by Rotherham did not find touch and Dale attacked from deep. Oscar Canny ran a defence splitting line and fed Macnab who grabbed his second try. Davidson converted to give Dale a solid 12-point lead.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
A final catch and drive from an attacking line-out resulted in a third try for Rotherham, scored by Aydan Godden. Hayes missed the conversion but a tense few minutes were left before Wharfedale could celebrate gaining 4 points. It was so nearly a bonus-point try when, with Rotherham pinned deep in their 22 and trying to run everything, Dale grabbed the ball and looked to have scored – the ref decided that the scoring pass was forward and blew for no-side.

Simon Verbickas, Wharfedale’s Director of Rugby, said after the game:
“I think the score-line 27 – 20 was a really well-deserved result for Wharfedale. I don’t think that the last gasp bonus point try that was disallowed made any difference. The lads felt that it was a bonus-point win for themselves, for their pride, for the ability to come here to Rotherham with a massively changed side from the week before. Every single player played out of his skin for us”.

Wharfedale: Verity; Bullock, Coulton, Walters, Canny; T. Davidson, Macnab; J. Altham, Hirst, Dickinson, Borrill, Elliot, Fawcett, Green, Baldwin (c) Replacements not used Meehan, Kitching, Smith Jnr, Hodgson, Prell