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Last-minute try foils revitalised Wibsey
Buy this photo » MATT FINISH: Wibsey’s Matt Holdsworth touches down despite a tackle from Rodillians’ Scott Cranmer
Wibsey 12 Stanley Rodillians 17
Having lost 100-0 earlier in September when they travelled to Stanley Rodillians with only 12 men, Wibsey, with a full complement this time plus two replacements, came close to a notable draw at Beldon Lane in the return.
“I wouldn’t have played that game earlier in the season - I would have said we hadn’t got enough front-row men,” confessed Wibsey’s coach Dave Grayson.
“But I was heart-broken for the lads on Saturday as they put so much effort in only to lose it so late on.”
Wibsey had first use of the well-known slope but could only manage a 12-0 advantage by half-time, which never looked enough, particularly when Rodillians got a converted try within six minutes of the restart.
However, although they were on the defensive for the most part and conceded a second try in the 61st minute, the hosts held on at 12-12 until the 79th minute when, for once, their tackling let them down.
Grayson added: “We didn’t get enough points in the first half but the pivotal point was when our second row Alex Cerson went off in the 51st minute with a neck injury.
“Then our front five started to struggle and their front five got on top but the referee (former Aireborough centre Tony Smith) should have given at least one yellow card to Rodillians when they conceded ten straight penalties in the first half.
“A lot of people on the rugby forums say that we gave them their hardest game of the season and they are surprised that we aren’t higher up the table than eighth but we need to start turning these close defeats into victories.
“Once we do, we will move on and we will know what to do in the 78th, 79th and 80th minutes to win matches.”
Wibsey, who need more first-team squad members to attend training regularly, put early pressure on themselves by failing to secure the kick-off, which led to Rodillians moving the ball right with purpose, only a good tackle by centre Simon Birkbeck halting the visitors’ raid.
Wibsey gradually worked their way downfield and there was a melee on the touchline after Wibsey flanker Rob Greenwood was halted before he had run ten metres from a tap penalty.
The home side had a strong case for a Rodillians yellow card when Greenwood was again tackled short of the ten metres four minutes later but it was still 0-0 in the 17th minute when winger Matt Holdsworth was high tackled and fly half James Sawyer hooked the penalty wide.
Wibsey finally got in front on 21 minutes when hooker Matt Hartley was driven over, Sawyer’s conversion drifting wide of the far post.
The home side had to reshuffle in the 37th minute when full back Adam Hirst went off with a shin injury, centre Bryn Worsley switching to full back and Stuart Rushworth coming on as a replacement.
Two minutes later, from a slick attack, Worsley joined the line to good effect from another Greenwood tap penalty, and Holdsworth went over, Sawyer nailing the conversion for 12-0.
Rodillians centre Mark Hullock’s try in the 46th minute, converted by full back Adam Scrafton, put Wibsey on the back foot, but, inspired by skipper James Birkbeck, who should donate his body to medical science as he plays with so many knocks, and man of the match Sawyer were inspirational in both attack and defence.
Rushworth (shoulder) and Cerson (neck) were other casualties in a hard-fought clash that also affected Rodillians but the Wakefield side drew level with a try by No 8 Mick Starkey in the 61st minute.
Worsley had pulled off a try-saving tackle seconds before but they needed that kind of commitment in the 79th minute when centre Nathan Booth cut through weak defence to get the match-winner for fifth-placed Rodillians.