WHARFEDALE second row, Elliot Stockton, hailed the impact of three players, as his side collected a battling 35-22 victory at Preston Grasshoppers on Saturday.

The victory sees Dale retain their spot in 3rd and it further emphasises just how good the Green Machine have been in the early stages of the season, having won eight of their 11 fixtures played.

After the game, Stockton commented: “It was good to get another five points against a very physical team.

“Hoppers challenged us at the breakdown and in contact areas, but we dominated the set piece and secured our own lineout ball. This meant that good ball could be used by the backs.

“The back three of Verity, Davidson and Darwin were exceptional, as they had to deal with a lot of high kicks throughout the contest. It will be important to get a good run up to Christmas to set the team up for 2024. As always, I’d like to give a big shout to the faithful who travelled over to support us.”

After a frustrating opening 15 minutes for the visitors, the hosts took the lead through Jack Lightowler, who darted over for a converted try in what was Preston’s first meaningful attack.

This brief set back did not stop Dale’s ambition and with Sam Dickinson leading the charge they were soon back in Preston’s 22. From a penalty awarded for a deliberate knock-on Dale had an attacking lineout. Five phases later Oliver Cicognini forced his way over to open the visitors’ account. Sam Gaudie slotted the conversion.

From the restart Dale dominated possession and territory again. With a brief interruption, and despite another deliberate knock-on, the Greens went through 26 phases which ended with a converted try for Rob Baldwin.

The half ended with Preston on the attack and with a 5-metre line-out. The catch and drive was held up by Dale and having won the ensuing scrum the ball was kicked dead to end the half with Dale leading 14-5.

The away side started the second half with even more attacking intent and another Cicognini barnstormer saw him with Oliver Riddiough in support, and he received the off-load to score Dale’s third converted try.

The Lancastrian’s came back into the match after another Dale kick was charged down, which gave them some strong field position. William Hunt touched down and added the conversion to get Preston back into the game. They then narrowed the gap to six points with a penalty by Hunt.

Normal service soon resumed, and another deliberate knock-on gave the Green Machine a penalty kick which was sent into Preston’s 22. The ball soon ended up in Cicognini’s hands and with a dummy and dancing feet, he slipped almost unnoticed through the defence for his second and Dale’s bonus point 4th try. Gaudie added the conversion.

Victory was sealed for the away team with a fifth try scored by Tom Beresford after a strong, direct run. Gaudie was again accurate from the tee.

Preston finished the match with some good play of their own and were rewarded with a try from Samuel Townsley. Hunt converted and the faithful could retire to the warmth of the clubhouse.

Cicognini was the Star Man in the Rugby Paper, and deservedly so. He was a constant threat to the Preston defence with a combination of trickery and powerful running, while Elliot Stockton had another strong game.

Wharfedale: Verity (Kaup-Samuels 24); Darwin, Coulton, Cicognini, Davidson; Gaudie, Riddiough; Dickinson (Altham 67), Wills (Collinson 67), Armstrong, Stockton, Hedgley (c), Pinder, Markey (Beresford 63), Baldwin (Green 66)