Old Albanian 25 Wharfedale 28
Wharfedale returned to winning ways in the warm sunshine at St Albans.
An impressive first half gave Wharfedale a lead to defend playing into the wind in the second half. With both sides committed to open rugby the game was always going to be exciting. So it proved to be. Dale scored first after a penalty kick was sent into Old Albanians' half.
The line out was taken by Aaron Myers and a weighted kick through was collected by Scott Jordan who crossed for a try which Tom Barrett converted.
Jordan crossed again after intercepting an Old Albanian pass on the half way line, with Barrett adding the extras. Wharfedale were 14-0 up after 10 minutes.
Back came the home side and reduced the deficit with a combination of good support play and off loading as prop Charlie Hughes went over for an unconverted try.
Wharfedale's response was to push the southerners back into their own half and win a penalty which Barrett slotted from 45 yards.
Good work from Barrett and Myers and an exchange of kicks gave Dale a line out in Albanians' half. Clean ball was fired to Barrett and an inside ball gave Josh Prell chance to break through. He rode tackles and then returned the pass to Barrett, who crossed for a superbly constructed try. The wind got the better of the conversion but Dale now led 22-5.
The home side benefited from some harsh refereeing decisions which were compounded with the sin-binning of Richard Rhodes. Eventually the pressure told and Old Albanians were awarded a try which Gregg converted. Barrett added another penalty before half-time for Dale to lead 25-12.
Into the wind, the second half was all about defence and although Dale conceded two unconverted tries and a penalty, the Green Machine kept going. Barrett added an important penalty and the game finished with all the players camped on Dale's line but fighting to the last.
There was obvious joy from the players, management and the travelling support when the final whistle went and gave Wharfedale a precious win and a good step towards survival.