South Leicester 19

Wharfedale 22

by Ed Williams

WHARFEDALE won their second away game of the season on a wet day in the Midlands on Saturday.

Both sides tried to play open rugby in poor conditions, but Wharfedale persevered to win the battle at the end of the game.

South Leicester started strongly and after five minutes their pressure was rewarded with an unconverted try from No 8, Joseph Collingham.

Ben Palmer added a penalty to extend their lead to 8-0.

Dale then had a better period and started going through the phases. A good break by Jack Blakeney-Edwards was supported and and off load from Josh Burridge allowed James Tyson room to squeeze over in the corner.

Blakeney-Edwards just missed the conversion but added a penalty minutes later to level the scores.

A penalty each kept the match tied 11-11 at half-time.

Seven minutes into the second half, another scintillating break from Blakeney-Edwards saw South give up a penalty under their posts and Dale’s stand off made no mistake from the tee to take Dale into a 14-11 lead.

Palmer responded with another three points before the home side retook the lead at 19-14 with another forward drive for an unconverted try from Wesley Cope.

This could have been another tale of an away trip where Dale were competing throughout the game but ran out the losers.

With the pack gradually gaining the upper hand and five minutes to go the Green Machine (playing in the red away strip) had a five metre scrum and the players were urged on and had the will and the energy to drive the ball forward and Josh Burridge scored a vital try. The conversion just drifted wide to leave the scores level at 19-19.

After the restart, a kick from South went straight out and Dale had an attacking platform.

Three phases after the successful line-out, the visitors won a penalty and up stepped Blakeney-Edwards to take the kick at goal. From wide right he slotted the ball through the posts to make it 22-19 and a couple of phases after the restart put the ball into touch to end an exciting game.

The stats will show how much better this season is already and this team has now shown that they can win on the road, they can win a game that turned into a well fought battle of attrition and they can win a game that has demanded full concentration until the final whistle.

As one hardened supporter said: “It is great to come away on a cold and wet miserable day but to travel back up the M1 with a warm glow in your heart.”

Wharfedale: Edwards, Mann, Bullough (Blackwell 65), Lovegrove, Cicognini, Blakeney-Edwards, Gaudie (Woodhead 15), Altham, Stockdale, Ward, Hedgley (c), Leacock, Walker, Tyson, Burridge. Replacements not used: Hirst, Martin, Stockton.