Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Wharfedale RUFC
6:00 PM 1st October 2023

Match Report: Wharfedale 33 Sheffield 25

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
Wharfedale turned this game around in the second half to come back 25 – 12 down to gain a fantastic 5-point win against worthy opponents. Sheffield dominated the first half, forcing the home side to concede penalties. Dale`s defence held them in check though and this was epitomised before half time when Sheffield went through 21 phases after a successful attacking line-out without crossing the whitewash.

The Sheffield backs opened the scoring with a move down their left and Cameron Catleugh crossing to touch down. Eliot Fisher added the extras. The South Yorkshire side then gifted the ball close to their own line. Eliot Stockton scooped up the loose ball and Jack Pinder was on hand to score an unconverted try.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
The Sheffield pack then took charge and eventually the Dale defence gave way and a catch and drive was finished off by Reece Bartlett, Fisher added the two points. Sheffield continued with their somewhat one-dimensional tactic and eventually the penalty count grew and Ben Markey was yellow carded. Jason Hignell then scored Sheffield’s third. Fisher missed the conversion but the visitors had a healthy lead at oranges. The Dale defence had kept the score to three tries with some magnificent tackling.

Dale had some good territory in the first half but they were guilty of squandering possession and not building phases to make progress.

The second half started much the same as the first. After early skirmishes the visitors set up camp in Dale’s 22. 16 phases yielded a Yellow Card and a penalty in front of the posts which Fisher converted.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
Wharfedale then started playing with more spirit, speed and accuracy. They won a line-out on Sheffield’s 22 and moved the ball left. Robbie Davidson was given half a chance and his speed and strength took him round the defence to score out wide. Gaudie converted from the touch-line.

Another Sheffield penalty, this time converted by Jonathan West, seemed to restore Sheffield’s confidence. It was Dale who were now in full attacking mode and they closed the gap with a converted Jake Armstrong try. The gap was now less than a full score; maybe the spirit of Clarty was instilling something into the Green Machine he so cherished.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
Sheffield now were conceding penalties with Dale in charge. A penalty was awarded 5 metres out from the visitor’s line. The ball was secured from a solid scrum and Gaudie took the opportunity to nip down the blind side which had been left unoccupied. This was Gaudie at his best; he looked down the blind side a couple of times and then looked to the open side. The Sheffield defender moved across and Gaudie looked again and popped over. His own conversion, from very wide left, took Dale into the lead. Dale were not finished and continued looking for another try. Centre, James Coulton, crashed over under the posts; Gaudie’s conversion meant that the visitors would return home without a point.

Simon Verbickas, Wharfedale Head Coach, said after the game:
“I am really proud of the spirit of this team over the last few weeks to keep playing for 80 minutes. To come back from a 13-point deficit to get a 5 point victory was enormous. What gave me confidence was how the changing room was at half-time, there was a quiet confidence that they could go out and win the match. It gave me full faith in the lads to go out and turn the game around”.

Sheffield’s Head Coach, Anthony Posa, commented:
“I am pretty frustrated with this as we dominated most of the first half. We were not clinical enough and left 2 – 3 scores out on the pitch. We knew that Wharfedale would come back at us especially as they were playing down the slope. The Yellow Cards hurt us at the end. Great credit to the way Wharfedale played – we were not good enough to resist”.

Wharfedale now lie in third position in the league and there was a great atmosphere at the club all weekend. It is hoped that the winning continues with another bumper crowd next week in the local derby at the Avenue against Otley

Hodgson; Kaup-Samuels (Riddiough 56), Coulton, Cicognini, Davidson; Gaudie, Riddiough (Verity 35); Dickinson, Hirst, Armstrong, Stockton, Hedgley (c), Pinder, Markey, Baldwin (Green 60) Replacements not used Meehan, Wills, Mallinson