National League Two North: Tynedale 22 Wharfedale 24

WHARFEDALE'S dramatic last-minute victory, which also gave them a four-try bonus point, means that their destiny is in their own hands when they face Macclesfield at The Avenue on Saturday.

Sheffield are already down (they are on 37 points and can only reach 47) and a win with a bonus point for the Dalesmen would take them to 57 points and also relegate Blaydon (who can only reach 56).

The other club in the mix are Luctonians, who played solidly won at Otley and still have three games left.

The Herefordshire club are on 42 points and could in theory reach 57, but that would involve them notching bonus-point wins at home to Sheffield (Saturday), at Leicester Lions (a week tomorrow) and at home to likely champions Sale (May 12).

In the unlikely scenario that Wharfedale and Luctonians each finish on 10 wins and 57 points, however, Wharfedale's superior points difference (they are currently on minus 133 compared to Luctonians' minus 253) should see them safe.

The battle of the Dales took place on a warm afternoon under a bright sky, and the rugby matched the weather, with both sides contributing to a fast, open game.

The match did not start very well for the Greens, however, who could not get their hands on the ball in the first 15 minutes.

Two mistakes did not help – they lost a line-out and when given a chance to clear their lines with a penalty, touch was not found – and Tynedale maintained their attacks.

Worse was to follow when after conceding three penalties, two of which were in the red zone, Wharfedale were warned about their misdemeanours.

However, the next penalty soon followed and Phil Woodhead was yellow carded.

From the ensuing five-metre line-out, first-phase ball was used and Ashley Smith carved through the defence to score, with Jake Rodgers adding the conversion.

Dale did not touch the ball after the restart and Tynedale built through eight phases before scrum half David Cook grabbed their second try, with Cook's conversion bounced of the crossbar and going over to give Tynedale a 14-0 lead after 15 minutes.

Despite skipper Woodhead still being in the bin, Wharfedale started to get their hands on the ball and play.

The restart was knocked on by Tynedale and Dale won a scrum penalty, which fly half Tom Barrett nudged into the opposition’s 22.

The line-out worked and the ball was moved left to Rhys Lovegrove, whose show and go opened up the home defence and he touched down under the posts for Barrett to convert.

Tynedale now could not get their hands on the ball and it was Wharfedale’s turn to go through eight phases after the restart before finding space for Matty Houghton to score wide on the left after showing good speed and strength.

Barrett just missed with the extras, and Tynedale then extended their lead with a Rodgers penalty to go in at half-time 17-12 ahead.

Good work from the second-half kick-off was ruined when Ashley Smith intercepted a long, floaty Barrett pass on halfway to open the second half scoring for Tynedale, but Rodgers could not convert.

Wharfedale then stepped up the gears and attacked relentlessly but the north-eastern hosts held out.

Tynedale were only allowed a brief period in Dale’s territory but their defence was amazing as wave after wave of attacks came to nothing.

A Rob Baldwin effort was penalised as a double movement but the pressure on Tynedale's line remained fierce. Bodies from both sides were put on the line and it took a poor ball which popped out the back from a Wharfedale scrum to catch Tynedale out, with Woodhead scooping the ball up and darting through a tiny gap to score.

The last minutes were frenetic.

Tynedale looked to have scored after an incident on halfway but the try was disallowed, and Dale had a scrum back.

However, the last 10 minutes were all Wharfedale.

Oliver Cicognini fielded a long clearance by the home side and made good ground, which was followed by 21 phases of bruising assault on Tynedale’s line.

The Corbridge side had the relief of a penalty, and the faithful thought that was the end.

But the penalty kick was brilliantly kept in play and some magic from Woodhead meant that the pressure was back on.

Nine phases were put together before the visitors were bundled into touch.

Again, the travelling support thought that the game was up, but Wharfedale won the line-out and then battered the line again.

Woodhead got the vital try, slipping through the eye of a needle to send hundreds of the Green Machine’s supporters into wild celebrations.

Barrett missed the conversion but it did not matter.

Wharfedale had the vital win and the magic bonus point.

With Blaydon losing elsewhere, the matter is now simple.

But Wharfedale's job is only half done.

Now the Greens have got to recover from a bruising encounter and produce again.

Wharfedale: Robbie Davidson; Joel Gill, Rhys Lovegrove (Will Lawn 68), Tom Davidson, Oliver Cicognini; Tom Barrett, Phil Woodhead (c); Toms Asejevs (Joe Altham 62), Dan Stockdale, Reece Ward (Toms Asejevs 68), Kieran Frost, George Hedgley, Matty Houghton (Josh Burridge 78), James Tyson, Rob Baldwin (Richard Rhodes 72). Replacement not used: Chris Swainson.