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Wharfedale win was comfortable, despite scoreline
Buy this photo » Joe Donkin scored Wharfedale's first try
Wharfedale 38 Coventry 26
Wharfedale were excellent value for this victory which maintained their 100 per cent home record in fixtures with the famous midland club.
In truth, the win was much more decisive than the score might suggest.
With only injury-time remaining Wharfedale led 38-14, a fair reflection of their overall dominance.
But, to their credit. Coventry mustered a late surge that brought them two tries and salvaged an improbable bonus point.
The Greens began at a furious pace, penning the visitors inside their ‘22’ for much of the opening ten minutes. Home stand-off Tom Barrett sent an early penalty shot wide of the posts, then his clinical cross-kick looked to have put Lloyd Davies clear, only for an unkind bounce to foil the winger.
Intense pressure on the visitors’ line continued, and a clear scoring opportunity was lost to a forward pass.
Coventry rode their luck and they surprisingly opened the scoring after 11 minutes, suddenly breaking out of defence at speed.
Full-back Clifford Hodgson swapped passes with winger Ian Clark before finishing in style, and adding the conversion.
Greens fans were stunned at this turn of events, but just three minutes later were cheering centre Joe Donkin, who broke through a tackle 40 metres out to leave himself a clear run to the line. Barrett landed a fine equalising conversion from close to the touchline.
The loss of feisty hooker Ian Larkin at the end of the first quarter with a leg injury was a blow for the Greens, despite having a more-than-capable replacement in Dan Stockdale.
Coventry wasted a good attacking line-out opportunity before the Greens turned defence into telling attack.
Barrett collected a chip ahead inside the home half, and his thrilling weaving run to the posts had defenders grasping thin air. It was surely a strong contender for try of the season. His simple conversion made it 14-7.
Coventry were on level terms within three minutes. Centre Barry Davies was on the end of an incisive move, touching down close to the right corner, and Hodgson converted.
Wharfedale now made their overall command in the forwards count. A line-out 15 metres from the visitors’ line was taken cleanly and once the drive, enthusiastically encouraged by the crowd, was under way the try was all but inevitable.
Flanker Aaron Myers claimed the honour on behalf of the pack, and Barrett converted.
The Dalesmen were now in full flow. Winger Josh Prell gained ground with an exciting break, setting up a slick move that finally saw No 8 Rob Baldwin collecting at pace to crash over under the posts). Barrett again converted for 28-14 – plus a first-half bonus point.
There was a hectic – and erratic – start to the second half. Barrett first enthused Green fans with a 40-metre jinking break out of defence. Then he missed a drop-goal attempt while on ‘advantage’, only to send the ensuing penalty dead when attempting to set a close line-out.
Play swiftly switched to the other end, and it seemed that Coventry had scored, under the posts, through prop Andy Brown.
Meantime, however, visiting skipper Matt Tibbatts had been getting up-close and very personal with Aaron Myers on the halfway line – keenly observed by the touch-judge, who offered his view of the incident to referee Marcus Caton.
The upshot was: no try, and ten minutes in the bin for Tibbatts.
What, but for Tibbatts’ rush of blood, could have been 28-21, soon became a three-score advantage for the Greens as Barrett slotted a penalty.
Former England international Dan Scarborough – on as second-half substitute – made two important tackles on Clark, who was again making trouble on the left wing, and was then involved in the Greens’ fifth try, after 62 minutes, which effectively sealed the result.
Scarborough had to leap for Barrett’s kick ahead, palming the ball neatly into Baldwin’s hands. With the defence split open, lock Richard Rhodes could stroll to the line, with time to touch down behind the posts, leaving a straightforward conversion for Barrett.
Coventry could have been forgiven if thoughts had now turned to nothing more than a warm bath, but in fact they ended the game on spirited attack.
Kohler was denied a try by putting a foot-in-touch.
Then pressure on the home line resulted in a five-metre scrum, from which No 8 Jacques Le Roux gained the touchdown.
Hodgson swiftly drop-goaled the conversion, and his quick-thinking left just enough time for Clark to finish off a last desperate foray with a try by the corner flag.
It was too little too late to halt Wharfedale’s victory celebrations.
Wharfedale: C Georgiou; L Davies (D Scarbrough 41), J Donkin, T Davidson, J Prell; T Barrett, P Woodhead (W Bell 72); J Altham (J Armstrong 59), I Larkin (D Stockdale 23), C Steel, R Brown, R Rhodes, J Barnard (J Burridge 64), A Myers, R Baldwin.
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