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Wharfedale in seventh heaven after desperately-needed victory
Buy this photo » Wharfedale flanker Dan Solomi ducks under two Loughborough Students tacklers to score their opening try
Wharfedale 33, Loughborough Students 22
There was tangible relief at Wharfeside Avenue when referee Wayne Falla’s whistle signalled the end of an entertaining and hard-fought match.
The Greens had a desperately-needed victory after a run of seven successive SSE National League One defeats.
But the much-changed students (several players were unavailable owing to featuring in an England Students match the previous day) were in no mood to give their hosts an easy ride.
Yet again the Dalesmen fell behind to an early try (after two minutes), Loughborough full back Sam Hughes winning a race for a cunning lob over the try line by fly half Stuart Hall, who then converted.
Wharfedale responded immediately, their influential No 10 Tom Barrett – who went on to contribute 18 points to the Greens’ total – clearing with a penalty a minute later.
But by the half-hour mark, Wharfedale had stretched out to a 20-7 lead, a typical cheeky break from a ruck and try by flanker Dan Solomi in the 13th minute and a driven touchdown by skipper Steve Graham after 30 minutes, plus the conversions and a second penalty from Barrett, seeming to put them in command.
Loughborough were not to be pushed aside so easily, though.
A Hall penalty had narrowed the gap by half-time, and a determined surge on the restart brought a second try for Hughes in the 42nd minute.
The Greens now knuckled down to their task, and dominated possession for much of the half, Barrett landing further penalties in the 45th and 58th minutes, and adding the conversion to a crashing score by flanker Alastair Allen in the 52nd minute.
However, it was the students who finished the stronger, negating the Greens’ bid for a try bonus point, and deservedly equalising the try count through Sam Heygate.
The No 8 finished off a slick move in the 76th minute, following sustained pressure, Hall converting.
Wharfedale: A Whaites; J Donkin, L Gray, J Tincknell, S Horsfall; T Barrett, P Woodhead (W Bell 68); M Tampin, S Graham (I Larkin 53), A Howard (N Dickinson 51), R Brown (J Mason 77), R Rhodes, A Allen, D Solomi, A Myers (T Wareing 74).