Worthing Raiders 34, Wharfedale 38
Wharfedale perhaps took inspiration from the 11 cyclists who had set off from Wharfedale last Wednesday morning, battling wind and rain for three-and-a-half days, to raise £10,000 for the Sue Ryder Manorlands Hos-pice.
It was a similar finish on the pitch, with the determined Greens ending the SSE National League One match strongly to secure an outstanding win.
Coach Jon Feeley had spoken before the game about “having the right mind-set”, telling the players “you must want to win. You have the skill levels.”
Worthing came out determined to finish their season on a high, and the game started badly for Dale, with Scott Jordan being taken to hospital with a serious leg injury, which turned out to be ankle ligament damage, in the fourth minute.
Joe Donkin was brought on into the centre with Will Davidson moving to the wing.
Both sides were attempting to play open, fast rugby but there was no scoring until the 12th minute, then, just like the proverbial buses, four tries came in eight minutes.
Wharfedale were pressing and a penalty kick gave them an attacking line-out five metres out.
But, as is usually the case, the line-out was lost and the Raiders launched a counter- attack which led to scrum half Jordan Burns scoring a try which Matthew McLean converted.
From the restart, Dale gathered the short ball and quick recycling led to a surge from Luke Cole, Jack Barnard being on hand to finish the move, Tom Barrett converting for 7-7.
However, Worthing forced a turn-over from the kick-off and ran the ball left, putting in winger Alex Nielsen for the first of his three tries.
But another short kick was won by Dale, and Tom Davidson broke through the first line of defence.
Will Bell was impeded from receiving a pass but Donkin crossed for a try anyway. After consultation with a touch judge, no further action was taken and the try awarded, which Barrett again slotted to edge Dale into a 14-12 lead.
Although the Greens had further opportunities, the Raiders showed the potency of their line-out, clean ball being recycled and run before Nielsen got another try near the touchline.
Barrett then missed a penalty, Worthing won a scrum and No 8 Liam Perkins crashed over two minutes before half-time.
However, there was still time for a Bell break, Josh Burridge being up in support to score, Barrett’s conversion cutting the deficit to 22-21.
An untidy start to the second half led to both teams losing a player for ten minutes, with Raiders’ lock Chris Sewell and Dale’s No 8 Aaron Myers, being removed for foul play after a touch judge intervened.
Dale benefited, however, when Tom Davidson scored after 53 minutes to take the visitors into the lead again, Barrett again being successful to make it 28-22.
Back, however, came Worthing and strong running led to Nielsen’s third score, McLean adding the extras to put the hosts ahead again.
Home lock Charlie McGowan then pounced on a scrappy Dale line-out for Worthing’s sixth try, but a Tom Davidson penalty gave the visitors the chance of some pressure in the Worthing 22.
Winning the line-out, the Greens drove for the line. A penalty followed and then a free-kick, which Aaron Myers took quickly and darted for the line. Chris Steel was on hand to dance over from half a metre, and Tom Davidson’s conversion took Dale into a one-point lead.
Their domination at the set-piece was now complete and Worthing were fighting for scraps.
Sam Hewick was yellow carded for repeated technical offences, and Tom Davidson then landed a penalty to extend Wharfedale’s lead to four points when Worthing were penalised at a scrum.
Dale then pressed and pressed, looking for the score that would put the match beyond the Raiders reach and won a line-out eight metres from the home line.
From it, Worthing swept down the length of the pitch and looked certain to score in the corner, but Josh Prell, who had had a moderately quiet game, appeared at the last second and crunched the potential scorer into touch in a match-saving moment.
Dale managed to work the ball clear and a succession of penalties won by the Green Machine led to a yellow card for Worthing’s Michael Ponting.
Good ball control saw time out for the visitors, the match ending with replacement scrum half Jimmy Bull-ough putting the ball into touch.
Raiders’ coach Kieron Dawson, said: “It was a snapshot of the season. We scored lovely tries but struggled at the set-piece.”