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Wharfedale pay for poor decisions
Stourbridge 31 Wharfedale 12
Wharfedale’s hopes of a similar start to last season when Stourbridge were routed at the Avenue were not helped by pre-match decisions.
Playing three sessions of rugby to give the chance to try out different players from the squad of 30 players who travelled, meant that one side would be playing into a strong wind for two sessions.
Confusion before the game led to Dale opting to kick off and Stourbridge taking the wind advantage for 50 out of the 80 minutes.
Decisions were also a factor during the game. Too many long balls at the line-out led to turn overs.
In the wind it was surely a safer option to go short and build with secure ball rather than try the long throw for quicker possession.
Wharfedale played the better rugby in the first period. They dominated the set pieces and in a league match that and the mounting penalty count would have resulted in yellow cards for Stourbridge players.
There were good individual breaks by Tom Davidson and Philip Woodhead, but lack of support meant that the moves fizzled out.
A poor line-out in the Stourbridge 22 led to a break out, and with the help of poor tackling resulted in the first Stourbridge try, scored by man of the match, Nigel Mukarati.
Some good play into the wind ended with more poor tackling to allow Stourbridge winger Nathan Brassington a walk-in try, which was converted by Jamie Hearn for a 12-0 lead.
The second session saw wholesale changes but Wharfedale again started the stronger and good pressure led to a sweeping move from the right which found skipper Chris Steel on the wing and he delicately squeezed over to score.
James Druce judged the wind superbly to land the conversion.
Good runs by Nathan Myers and Adam Whaites went unrewarded.
Stourbridge then produced the move of the match with great running, ball handling and offloading which led to an excellent try by No 8, Seamus McKimm.
The conversion by Hearn gave the home side a 17- 7 lead.
Wharfedale struggled with possession, not managing to find rhythm, and not making much progress apart from through another fine break by Woodhead, who had to concede a penalty as he was isolated.
Wharfedale wrestled possession back and little progress was being made until the ball came to the backs.
A slip by the Stourbridge centre was spotted by the alert Joe Donkin who was through the gap in a flash for a try.
Wharfedale pressed again and an outrageous dummy by Woodhead gave him a chance for the line, but he was held up short and the promising move was lost.
The session ended with Wharfe- dale pressing and the last play was a line-out close to the Stourbridge line.
The script was already written as Dale went long and lost the ball once again.
The last period saw Wharfedale attacking, but once they lost the ball they quickly found themselves struggling in defence.
By this time Stourbridge were scrummaging and mauling well and this led to their fourth try by Nile Dacres.
The fifth try was another gift as the ball was handed to them under the posts for Mark George to make the scoreline look somewhat embarrassing at 31-12.
Wharfedale skipper, Steel, was characteristically upbeat after the game saying: “Mistakes were made by individuals which they must bear responsibility for, but the team as a whole played good rugby.”
Head coach, Jon Feeley, was also optimistic. “The squad had received an important wake up call with regards to the physicality needed at this level,” he said after the game.
“It has been a disjointed performance.”
Before the match he had asked players to back themselves if there was an opportunity”
He highlighted the performance of scrum half, Woodhead, and said: “He played the game at speed and the others needed to catch up.”
Looking forward to this Saturday’s home game with Otley, (3pm) he commented: “There will be a focus on defence this week.
“Rugby is a game of attack and defence. If the defence isn’t working we will have some major problems.”
He was also encouraged by the performances of the trio of 19-year-olds Nathan Myers, Josh Burridge and Will Davidson who were making their first senior appearances.
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