AFTER cruising into a 19-5 half-time lead, Wharfedale made hard work of their encounter with Sheffield at the weekend, however, they edged the visitors at the death.

It wasn’t a game of open and fluent rugby, but nevertheless, it was a match which had spectators on the edge of their seats throughout.

The fixture was opened with the sound of bagpipes, as a rendition of ‘Flowers of the Field,’ a lament in honour of the fallen, filtered the Wharfedale air. A two-minute silence immediately followed.

From kick-off, Dale were instantly on the front foot having pushed Sheffield back into their 22 from the kick-off. However, the visitors stood strong and were soon on the front foot themselves, perfectly illustrating the tempo at which this relentless fixture would be played at.

Sheffield went through 17 phases and eventually threatened Wharfedale’s line before a strong tackle from George Hedgley forced a relieving penalty. A Cicognini break was swept forward by Omari Kaup-Samuels before a knock-on, and offside gave Tom Mann a long-range penalty shot.

The ball floated past the right-hand upright. The 22 drop-out was taken by Mann whose probing kick was regathered by Oscar Canny. Dale opened their account with a try from Josh Burridge after good work from Ben Wright and Harry Bullough. Tom Mann converted to put the hosts 7-0 up.

Sheffield were then reduced to 14 men when Dominic Parsons was red carded for foul play. Sheffield were still able to mount an attack and three missed tackles later, they were allowed to grab an unconverted try by Ianto Jones.

A cross kick (with a scrum penalty advantage) was collected by Harry Bullough who ran out of his 22. He passed to Kaup-Samuels who fed Oscar Canny. He ran a superb line down the left wing before feeding Bullough who crossed the line. Mann again added the extras. Dale’s third try came from a very efficient catch and drive with Ben Wright being awarded the score. No conversion but a good 19-5 first half lead.

Sheffield opened the scoring in the second half with another Jones try converted by Eliot Fisher. Will Taylor and Will Smith scored unconverted tries for Sheffield to put them into a 22-19 lead.

Dale finally got their act together and applied good pressure in the Sheffield 22 before Matt Speres scored the winning converted try.

Sheffield did have a lot of possession in the second half, but a lot of that possession was in their own half. Dale’s defence did creak at times but tackle after tackle was put in, and they would not allow Sheffield to turn that possession into more points or territory. Sheffield may have gone home with a tinge of disappointment but how many times have Dale been on the receiving end of a last gasp defeat? Sheffield battled manfully with 14 men and it certainly contributed to an exciting afternoon.

Head Coach, Simon Verbickas, said after the game: “I thought probably we were very lucky to win the game today. Our decision making in the first half was very good but fell apart a little in the second half but a win is a win.

“All credit to the way Sheffield played with only 14 men from the fifth minute of the game; they played 75 minutes a man light and still took the game right to the end. We needed the win and that’s what I asked for at the start of the game; we’ve got the win and now we’ll move forward."