Stourbridge 29 Wharfedale 18

WHARFEDALE made a strong start to this National Two North encounter and went in at half-time with a justified lead.

The visitors took the lead after just two minutes with a well-worked try.

Collecting the ball after Stourbridge were forced to kick downfield, Wharfedale developed the move through eight phases before a powerful break by Rhys Lovegrove was supported by Tom Barrett who put Tom Mann in for the try.

Encouraged by their early success, Wharfedale maintained the pressure. They created a number of opportunities close to the line but were unable to capitalise on them.

Wharfedale extended their lead with a rousing piece of play. Stourbridge had a scrum in an attacking position, but despite keeping possession through five phases of play, they were driven back 30 metres before conceding a penalty.

Barrett kicked deep into Stourbridge territory where more pressure led to the visitors being awarded a penalty in front of the posts which the stand-off landed.

Wharfedale’s pack were causing problems for the home eight in the scrums and this led to Stourbridge changing two of their forwards. The move stabilised their scrum and they exerted pressure.

Wharfedale started to make errors and couldn’t clear their lines. The growing pressure eventually resulted in a try by Nicholas Murphy which Robert Forbes converted.

Stourbridge took the lead early in the second half with a try by substitute Nik David when Wharfedale were reduced to 14 men by a Rhys Lovegrove yellow card.

The Wharfedale response was rapid with Barrett dropping a goal from 45 metres to edge his side ahead.

The Midlanders retook the lead when another substitute, Jack Lea, crashed over from short range. Forbes slotted the conversion to take the score to 19-13.

There was a lucky let off for Stourbridge when Barrett broke the line with skipper Phil Woodhead in support, but the ball was knocked on close to the line.

Wharfedale’s adventure backfired when a suicidal long pass was picked off by winger Joshua Trinham, on his own 10-metre line, who ran in a try which David converted.

It said much for the character of the Wharfedale side that they kept plugging away and were rewarded when a superb finish from Oli Cicognini earned an unconverted try.

David kicked a late penalty to round off the scoring, but there was still time for Wharfedale to come within inches of a losing bonus point.

That man Cicognini was denied a second try by a foot in touch.

It was tough luck on James Doherty’s side who played with great spirit and endeavour and might even have won the game if they had taken their chances.

Wharfedale: Mann (T Davidson 69); R Davidson, Gill. Lovegrove, Cicognini; Barrett, Woodhead (c); Asejevs (Altham 26), Stockdale (Larkin 60), Ward (Asejevs 69), Howard, Rhodes, Frost, Tyson, Burridge (Graham 60).

Replacement not used: Lawn