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Second-half onslaught in vain for Wharfedale
Wharfedale 15 Blackheath 25
Wharfedale, hoping to bounce back from a dismal performance in their previous match, at home to Tynedale, were once again hit by a blistering start by their opponents.
With less than six minutes played, they trailed 12-0 to well-constructed tries by Blackheath wingers Liam Gibson (converted) and Richard Lankshear.
This time, however, the Greens did not buckle, and by the end of the first quarter had clawed back onto level terms.
Impressive mauling by the home pack first provided the launch pad for a slick move that ended with centre Joe Donkin touching down for a converted try (17 mins), then hooker Steve Graham (20) took the honour after a rumble over the Blackheath line.
A 28th-minute yellow card for Blackheath prop Nick Winwood offered Wharfedale a gilt-edged opportunity to forge ahead, but they failed to capitalize on their advantage.
Instead, defensive errors gifted visiting stand-off Rory Teague two simple penalties (33 & 40) – the second following a card for Greens lock Richard Rhodes – and what had seemed a likely interval lead became a six-point deficit.
Themselves now reduced to 14 men, the Dalesmen began the second half strongly, stand-off Tom Barrett reducing the arrears with a penalty (43). But, unlike Wharfedale, Blackheath made numerical superiority count, their pack forcing a penalty try (48) for a 15-25 lead before Rhodes’ return.
For the final half-hour it was a story of fierce almost unrelenting Wharfedale pressure. No less than four times, the Greens were ‘held up’ when over the line, but they were up against disciplined defenders seemingly prepared to die rather than concede, and the visitors, remarkably, held out the final whistle.