AFTER having their fixture cancelled the week before, Wharfedale Development XV's first away fixture in Yorkshire Merit League Championship North was against Bradford Salem Seconds, with the visitors triumphing 24-12.

A mixture of work commitments, injuries and general lame excuses meant that only 14 men made the journey to Shay Lane, however, including a number of faces stepping up from the fourth team.

However, Salem kindly lent the visitors a player, and a lot of credit must be given to Josh Clay, who stepped up to prop, despite having little front-row experience.

Despite the shortage of numbers and a smattering of new faces, the lads in green looked focused and started the game sprightly with strong carrying, notably from Elliot Stockton, Dave Hickling and Michael Beer.

Hickling nearly scored, being just short of the line, but the ball was recycled and fed out to the right wing,where new signing James Raper drew his man and put second-row Stockton in at the corner.

Captain for the day, fly half Jonathan Davies, added the extra two points with an excellent conversion.

Wharfedale full back Sam Arkwright then lost possession running out of defence, leading to a Salem try, and, after a few honest efforts in the scrum, it was decided by all that Clay was a little out of his depth in the front row, so, for safety reasons, the game went to uncontested scrums.

Salem's coach Ian Woodwiss then suggested that they could lend the visitors a prop to keep the game more competitive and structured, Sukhlain Khan proving useful in the set-piece.

One solid scrum was the platform for the opening score of the second half, with the good ball allowing Davies to break clear, and Stockton was on hand in support to cross for his second try, with Davies again converting for 14-5.

Dale were gradually becoming dominant side, and were increasingly full of running, but it took a heel against the head for Matt Wareing to pick up from the base of the scrum and feed Davies, who showed good footwork to cut through and score, once again tagging on the conversion.

Salem came back into the game after it went to uncontested scrums, scoring a converted try on the right to make it 21-12.

But Wharfedale were straight back on the attack, with a high shot stopping Wareing in his tracks for Davies to add a penalty.