Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Wharfedale RUFC
4:14 PM 10th March 2024

Match Report: Wharfedale 8 Leeds Tykes 12

John Clark 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
In front of the largest crowd of the season, Wharfedale were transformed from the discipline point of view from the previous week, giving away just a single penalty in the first half whilst Leeds were accumulating many more.

It should also be noted that it was only the second time that Leeds had failed to accumulate 5 bonus points, both occasions being against the Greens. As one of our supporters rightly said “today showed what a weapon good discipline is.”

The performance of the referee was exceptional, with whom we have had problems in the past. It was comfortably the best performance by a referee here this season, even though a recently retired player has raised the bar and might dispute the above assertion!

The opening minutes of the match saw Leeds attacking but lacking precision, as shown early on when a pass was thrown into touch. The danger from attacking full back Kieran Davies was soon clear, but playing down the slope, despite facing the strong wind, the Wharfedale forwards made ground with the result that they earned a threatening position under the posts, which eventually came to nothing, Dale being held up over the line on the left.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
A Leeds clearance kick was returned deep by Ryan Hodgson, but almost immediately a huge punt right aided by the strong wind resulted in a line out inside the Wharfedale 22. Leeds’ Ewan Evans had to be replaced by Ben Turpin but he proved to be the first try scorer after 19 minutes.

Ben intercepted a promising Greens move right and scored, having run from inside his own 22. This left an easy conversion for Kieran Davies, who was to have his usual fantastic game. This turned out to be the only score of the first half, not least because the Greens defence was so good that Leeds had great difficulty in securing the ball, whereas Wharfedale performed well in this crucial aspect of the game.

A quite memorable bit of action saw Tom Darwin driving back the opposing winger more than 15 metres with 4 players - two backs and two forwards - soon on hand to capitalise on this. The impressive Louis Verity then made many metres before an excellent position was gained in the left hand corner.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
Unfortunately over-eagerness resulted in a penalty being conceded and a huge opportunity lost. Just before half time Davidson kicked a penalty to the left corner, but Leeds won the maul after a great effort by the home pack. 0-7 was the half time score.

Now playing uphill with the wind Davidson kicked for position after fielding a poor Leeds kick and then they repeated the error by kicking to Tom Darwin who passed to Verity. That resulted in further momentum for Dale as Leeds struggled at the lineout and conceded a penalty. Davidson’s kick at goal just drifted right.

There followed the best period for Leeds with flowing moves right then left, before former Wharfedale player Pete Lucock was yellow carded.

Wharfedale’s best period of play followed with the back row impressing, linking with Cicognini, Hedgley and livewire scrum half Riddiough and enabling Davidson to score far right on 58 minutes. Although he failed to convert, he was soon in the game again with a drive up the middle.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
One of many bursts by Man of the Match Elliot Stockton followed, a penalty was awarded and this time Davidson was successful. To see Stockton playing so magnificently gave home supporters huge hope for the future, as he is only one of the youngsters who are already impressing. Is there any other team with a stand off half and full back with so much potential, never mind our abundance of scrum halves, backs and forwards.

Leeds scored what proved to be the crucial try after some effective scrummaging when full back Kieran Davies touched down on the far left after 75 minutes.
He failed to add the extras.

The match was certainly not over as Wharfedale threatened immediately with a James Coulton burst, a knock on very close to the posts, but still more possession for the Greens and a final cross kick by Verity which just failed to be touched down, so Leeds survived!

Wharfedale’s recent form has been exceptional. No other team has given the top sides such a tough time. As in this game it is almost impossible to single out individuals and your scribe apologises if occasionally he feels the need to do so.

photo by Ro Burridge
photo by Ro Burridge
For once, judging from the statistics, Wharfedale were the better side, which in view of the Leeds difference before today’s game of 530 points in their favour and no defeats in 21 matches reflected huge credit on all involved in the upward momentum of the Greens who in comparison had a points advantage of 113 and 14 victories.

The two coaches, our own and Leeds’ Peter Seabourne, agreed that it had been a tough test for both sides with great character shown and a mutual feeling (possibly!) that the better side on the day lost. It was good to welcome the genial caretaker from our former coach Jon Feeley’s school, Will Walsh, who is the Leeds photographer.