Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Wharfedale RUFC
1:00 PM 5th February 2024

Match Report: Wharfedale 31 Billingham 7

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
Wharfedale got back to winning ways on their long-awaited return to the Avenue. A bright and breezy day saw some entertaining rugby from both sides with Dale winning by 5 tries to 1. Billingham contributed to this match and played some strong rugby but could not finish, even though they had some good periods of possession. Dale were more clinical and when the opportunity arose had players in the right position to cross the whitewash.

Billingham started with a lot of possession, they had some big heavy ball carriers but the Dale defence dealt with them. Billingham went through 14 phases before a Wharfedale penalty forced them back into their 22. A couple of phases after a good Dale lineout, including a nice break by Louis Verity, saw James Coulton burst over to open the scoring with an unconverted try.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
Billingham again had plenty of possession and good territory after a clearing kick was charged down in Dale’s 22. They got very close to the line but a handling error handed Dale a scrum and a scrum penalty followed. Good charges from Rob Baldwin and George Hedgley took play into the visitor’s half but a knock-on halted progress. Billingham again got into Dale’s 22 but again poor handling squandered any chance.

Eventually Dale managed to put some phases together and it was the Dale pack who got the upper hand. The second try was scored by Jake Armstrong crashing over. After taking the ball from Oli Cicognini in the centre. Robbie Davidson was successful from the tee to leave the score 12-0 at halftime.

Dale came out with great purpose and soon set up camp in the visitor’s 22. Josh Burridge marked his return to 1st Team duty with a good jackal after the restart. Penalties followed against Billingham and Dale opted for the set piece. Another dominant scrum led to a break and an unconverted try by Louis Verity. Back came Billingham with another 15 phases, this time it was finished with Jonathan Horner touching down and Brian Foreman converting.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
A minute later Rob Baldwin was sent to the sin bin and Billingham sensed they were on the come-back trail. A good touch kick was followed by a good catch and drive and it seemed the try line was at their mercy. Poor discipline then saw a Billingham prop give away a penalty. It was Dale, however, who then reacted strongly and 6 penalties later Billingham’s Anthony Jackson joined Baldwin on the naughty step.

The home side finished the stronger with the Dale pack beginning to dominate. A penalty was awarded close to the try line but Dale changed their tactic and went for the 5-metre lineout. A great decision as the catch and drive was ruthlessly efficient and Josh Burridge was driven over.

The last try came from the backs with a juggling Harry Bullough scoring after some good play by Robbie Davidson and Louis Verity, with the forwards supporting with good recycled ball. Davidson converted the last two.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
So, a cracking day at the Avenue enjoyed by a good crowd and upstairs by a bevy of ladies enjoying Ladies Day.

Wharfedale Hodgson (Bullough 59); Davidson, Coulton, Cicognini, Hamilton (Darwin 79); Verity, Darwin (Hodgson 72); Dickinson (Meehan 66), Collinson (Wills 59), Armstrong, Stockton, Hedgley (c), Green (Burridge 29, Green 56), Markey (Pinder 29, Markey 36), Baldwin (Burridge 74)