WHARFEDALE marked their return to action with a strong and gritty 24-7 victory at fellow promotion-hopefuls Fylde on Saturday.

The result means that Dale have completed the double over Fylde for the first time it in 15 league campaigns.

Fylde have dominated this cross-border battle since the teams first met in the Leagues in 1996. The score may have flattered Dale a fraction, but the victory was well-deserved.

The hosts had plenty of possession and territory in the first half, with the wind at their backs, but the Green Wall never collapsed, and it was Dale who made maximum use of their period of territory and possession in the middle of the half to cross the whitewash and go in at half time with the lead.

Fylde had the best of the opening ten minutes; four penalties helped them to set up camp on the five-metre line, but a good catch and drive saw Dale force a turn-over and they cleared their lines.

The visitors then took charge and four penalties saw them deep in the home side’s 22. A tap and go from a penalty led to six phases of play, and then a chip from stand-off Louis Verity was touched down by James Coulton. Sam Gaudie converted.

Penalties mounted for both sides but at the end of the half, it was the visitors who had the best chance to score. Good pressure from Dale led to a yellow card for Fylde’s Toby Harrison and a kickable penalty.

The Yorkshiremen opted for a scrum and a more structured approach. The ball got stuck in the scrum and then chaos ensued. It looked like the home side were going to break away and turn Dale’s chance of three points into a score of their own. However, the chance was squandered.

Fylde started the second half with 14 but the situation was soon reversed. George Hedgley was penalised, and Dale were now playing with a man short. After returning to the fold, it was now Rob Baldwin’s turn to go to the sinbin. The seaside team took advantage of Baldwin’s absence with Valu Tane Bently crashing over. Gregory Smith added the extras.

A few minutes of end-to-end rugby resulted with two good kick chases by Dale which gave them a foothold in Fylde’s half. A successful line-out was then spread left for Rian Hamilton to have a run. He showed his pace and rounded the first set of defenders but his chip and chase was too long. A penalty advantage awaited and again Dale ignored the chance of three points and ran the ball. There were some good charges at the Fylde defence, especially one from Coulton, and after 14 phases it was Baldwin who dived over to break the deadlock. Gaudie converted and two minutes later stepped up to land a difficult penalty which took Dale two scores away.

Fylde’s heads dropped a little and then their spirit was broken when the restart was sent into touch for a scrum to Dale on halfway. The scrum led to a penalty and a kick to touch. A good lineout was followed by eight hard phases and then a line-break by Coulton for his second try. Gaudie was again successful from the tee making it four from four for the afternoon.

Wharfedale were able to hold on to victory, winning the contest 24-7.