Wharfedale 22 Sedgley Tigers 26
Wharfedale fans rolled up in the usual high numbers for this important match confident that a run of six successive league defeats would be ended against a team seemingly doomed to relegation.
However, their visitors – for whom victory was all but essential for them to retain any National One survival hopes – fashioned a notable and deserved triumph based mainly on a tenacious first-half defensive performance.
The Greens know they should have won. They dominated 80 per cent of the first half, yet reached half-time 14-13 in arrears.
The Tigers had mounted just two serious assaults on the home line – in the opening and closing minutes of the half – but made both count. Tries by winger Phil Largen (4 mins) and lively stand-off Steve Collins (40), both converted by Matthew Riley, saw them to an improbable, albeit narrow, advantage.
For all their superiority in terms of possession and territory, Wharfedale could manage just two unconverted tries from full-back Adam Whaites (26 & 33), plus a neat drop-goal from stand-off Tom Barrett (21).
Home fans remained hopeful that all would come right in the end. But the second half was much more evenly contested. The lead changed hands four times, the killer blow for the Greens’ hopes coming in the 77th minute when Tigers full-back Andrew Riley finished off a sweeping move for a try in the right corner.
Prior to that, Barrett cleared 3 penalties for the Dale (45, 58, 70), and A Riley grabbed the first of his brace of fine tries (49), M Riley converting.
Wharfedale will now be looking nervously over their shoulders. With Macclesfield also earning an excellent win, this defeat leaves the Dalesmen only a tenuous-looking ten points clear of the relegation slots.