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Sedgley Park 17 Wharfedale 14
Wharfedale RUFC ,
In a match that was fiercely contested throughout, Sedgley Park went ahead in the fourth minute, with a converted try out wide to Sam Peet. Dale responded to this setback well, and spent the next twenty minutes in the opposition half.

The Wharfedale pack established a dominance in the tight which was to last all afternoon. Although Dale could not penetrate Park’s well-organised defence, they were awarded a long-range penalty which Jack Blakeney-Edwards saw slide just wide of the posts.

The crucial moment match occurred towards the end of the first half when Park, down to 13 men after giving away a series of scrum penalties, fought themselves up field from their own try line. Wharfedale, with it’s pack having been on the front foot, were frustrated not to have been awarded a penalty try.

At the same time Sedgley Park, with its defensive wall having held firm, grew in confidence. Pressure relieved, the unerring boot of Steve Collins soon added a penalty to take the home side into the break at 10-0.

When the excellent Peet touched down for a second time, early in the second half, it looked as if Dale’s afternoon would prove fruitless.

Park followed up this score with a long period of pressure on the Green line. In the recent past, heads may have dropped at this point, but Wharfedale’s spirit remained strong, and their defence held firm.

In the last quarter of the match, incisive contributions from the bench, and superior fitness, led to the tide turning. With five minutes to go Ralph Wellock and Chris Walker combined to score a fine try, quickly converted by Sam Gaudie. Then, with the last play of the game and Dale’s scrum again marching towards the line, roared on by a large travelling support, they were awarded a penalty try.

It was fitting that it was Dale’s pack had the last say. In particular, both starters and replacements in the front row gave their opposition numbers a torrid time all afternoon. Behind them, it was very much a team performance.

One name that should be picked out, though, is Olli Cicognini, who led the team out to mark his 100th appearance for the first team. Defensively he was superb, and it was his speedy break from his own 22 which set up Dale’s final try. His stock as a Wharfedale player is still rising, and no-one can ask more than that.

The other people that should be applauded on this occasion were unsung heroes off the pitch. One is Chris Black – Wharfedale’s strength and conditioning coach. It was obvious, early in the match, that Dale’s fitness on a hot afternoon would have a say at some stage, and in the end it did.

Dale’s ability to play a full 80 minutes has become noticeably better over the last year, with the result that neither the team or the support rarely feel that a situation is quite hopeless – even when 17-0 down with five minutes to play. The other unsung star is Philip Peel, who has worked wonders with the scrum: the Sedgley Park pack were visibly shocked to see themselves marched around by a smaller unit.

A single losing bonus point may seem like scant consolation, but this was a fine and spirited performance against a Sedgley Park team which is likely to be in the fight for promotion. Although Wharfedale may rue a certain decision by the officials, they will also know that at crucial times their own decision-making could have been better – a point which coach Jon Feeley readily admitted afterwards: ‘We have come away very frustrated that we didn't achieve better.

At times, we were outstanding in certain facets of the game: our scrum, our defensive effort in the last 30 minutes and our resilience in fighting to the end. But there were times when we went away from our patterns of play and lost focus. This resulted in pressure and errors. The players in the dressing room afterwards knew it and were disappointed not to have come away with more.’

They will also know that, on another day, this would have been a winning performance.

Photos by Ro Burridge

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Wharfedale 20 Preston Grasshoppers 19
Scunthorpe 5 Wharfedale 24
Wharfedale 19 Fylde 32
Wharfedale 15 Otley 8
Wharfedale 22 Rotherham 19
Wharfedale 31 Old Elthamians 21
Wharfedale 29 Peterborough Lions 0
Wharfedale 38 Stourbridge 24
Wharfedale 12 Huddersfield 17
Tynedale 27 Wharfedale 21
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Sheffield Tigers 20 Wharfedale 22
Wharfedale 5 Chester 24
Leicester Lions 37 Wharfedale 10
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Wharfedale 20 Hinckley 33
Sedgley Park 20 Wharfedale 15
Wharfedale 18 Tynedale 3
Fylde 20 Wharfedale 17
Wharfedale 26 Sheffield Tigers 35
Match Report: Chester 28 Wharfedale 25
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Wharfedale 26 Sedgley Park 19
Match Report: Wharfedale Foresters 24 Pocklington 13
Match Report: Peterborough Lions 12 Wharfedale 26
Match Report: Wharfedale 17 Rotherham Titans 12
Match Report: Wharfedale 30 Macclesfield 21
Match Report: Tynedale 22 Wharfedale 24
Match Report: Wharfedale 44 Hinckley 19
Sedgley Park 17 Wharfedale 14, 16th September 2019, 12:28 PM