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Alastair Allen inspires Wharfedale's fightback
Old Albanians 27, Wharfedale 27
Wharfedale will be the happier side at the end of this fine, entertaining SSE National League One game.
Even if Tom Davidson could not follow his opening-minute penalty with one just before the end, which left the honours even, the Greens will gladly take three points to add to their successful beginning to the season.
Such comparative riches looked a very distant prospect with 20 minutes gone.
Clever midfield orchestration by James Shanahan produced three home tries.
First he set up combination passing between centres Johannes Lombaard and Terry Adams for the latter to score.
Minutes later a drive off the back of a line-out and a delayed pass from Shanahan put full back Richard Gregg in under the posts.
Then Old Albanians cashed in once more with further combination play from Shanahan helping Lombaard score. Gregg converted all three to give his team a 21-3 lead.
With Alastair Allen leading the charge, Wharfedale dragged themselves back into contention.
The flanker simply grabbed the game by the scruff on the neck with a series of powerful drives that imposed the Greens’ authority for the first time.
Pressure up front brought Wharfedale both penalties and territory, culminating in hooker Ian Larkin being driven over in the corner.
A limping Shanahan left the fray, and with him his side’s cutting edge.
Wharfedale confirmed their growing supremacy at the other corner when, following prop Val Ruskin’s yellow card at the scrum, winger Simon Horsfall strolled over an unattended blindside at the re-set set-piece to bring them to 21-13.
Gregg succeeded with a penalty early after the break but the hosts were now under pressure at the set-piece and Aaron Myers forced his way over - first from a close scrum and then a penalty line-out.
Though Gregg sandwiched a penalty between Davidson’s two conversions, the teams were now level at 27-27.
And so it was to stay, despite Wharfedale having fleeting chances.
They were recalled for crossing under the posts, failed to nail a matching-clinching penalty and just failed to push support to a last-minute break by scrum half Philip Woodhead fully home.
But they will be happy with both the way they ultimately performed and with more points gained away from home.