National League Two North: Wharfedale 13 Sedgley Park 10

ON AN afternoon that began with torrential rain and finished in glorious sunshine, Wharfedale secured the victory that has almost made them safe from relegation.

After what had been in more ways than one a difficult first half up the slope against third-placed Sedgley Park, with the home scrum creaking at times and the Greens' passing being too intricate for the conditions, they turned round only 7-0 behind and hauled in their opponents over the final 25 minutes.

Flanker Maximillian Skofic scored Park's try as early as the fifth minute, with fly half Stephen Collins converting.

Wharfedale full back Harry Bullough then benefited from an unseen knock-on to score a 56th-minute try, and the rest of their scoring was left to fly half Tom Barrett.

He knocked over a magnificent conversion from near the right touchline to level matters and, after Park had gone ahead again via a Matthew Riley penalty in the 68th minute, Barrett slotted a penalty eight minutes later before winning the match with a 78th-minute drop goal.

The only way that Wharfedale can go down now is if they fail to pick up a point in their final three matches and Sheffield Tigers have three bonus-point victories.

Rain of biblical proportions fell for an hour from 11.30am, with Wharfedale's staff bailing water off the pitch as some of their players were warming up.

However, water was still splashing up from the players' boots when the match got underway, and Wharfedale were perhaps guilty of over-elaboration with some of their first-half passing, which led to knock-ons.

"Put that down to poor skills," explained Greens skipper Josh Burridge, "as this was our 27th match this season so we should know what we are doing."

The hosts conceded a penalty in the second minute for a high tackle, and Park moved the ball right, winger Andrew Riley not quite being able to catch up with the kick through before it went dead in front of the scoreboard.

But Wharfedale were not about to be let off the hook, Skofic scoring a converted try three minutes later after stern pressure, although the Greens felt that their defence could have been better.

The visitors were quickly up in the tackle and pressured Wharfedale so much that they rarely ventured into Park's 22, although that was no fault of home scrum half Sam Gaudie, who made an excellent starting debut and was named man of the match.

His break gave Park some alarms in the first half and his passing was good too, but the 478 spectators then witnessed what was mainly a muddy midfield first-half battle.

Skofic's try apart, the home defence was solid in the first half, and Burridge said to his troops at half-time: "We are 7-0 down but we are a different team at home and it is us who should be 7-0 up and be the ones who are getting chased, rather than doing the chasing."

The warning signs were there for the Manchester side when Barrett's inside pass to Bullough almost put the full back in in the 52nd minute, Bullough's kick ahead being knocked on.

Three minutes later, referee Robert Bourke penalised Park scrum half Callum McShane for feeding – a rare infringement indeed – and in the 59th minute Burridge charged determinedly down the left before play was switched right for Bullough to score after the involvement of flanker Chris Swainson and right winger James Tincknell.

Park were adamant that the try should have been disallowed for a knock-on but Bourke awarded the score after consultation with a touch judge.

Barrett's conversion made it 7-7 and his clearance kick relieved pressure minutes later, only for Park to take the lead again after camping in the home 22.

Wharfedale, who also felt that Bourke missed some knock-ons, almost conceded an interception try in midfield as their attacks became more frantic as time ticked away.

But Barrett knocked over a 35-metre penalty to make the score 10-10 and then won it with an equally calm drop goal two minutes later after good forward pressure to give Wharfedale their eighth straight home win.

Burridge said: "I was very confident at half-time and we talked about kicking for the corner when we were 10-7 down but decided to take the kick at goal to level the scores.

"Then we always felt that we were going to get the ball back and get one more chance."