National Division One: Wharfedale 30, Lydney 5.

The Dalesmen produced a barnstorming display at Threshfield to inflict the heaviest defeat of the season on a gallant Lydney side whose lowly league position belies a mean streak which has seen them lose by a single score on no fewer than six occasions during the current campaign, writes Keith Lewis.

Most sides struggle for continuity against the dour Severnsiders, but Wharfedale proved equal to the task as they varied their options in attack and slammed the barn door shut in the face of a spirited Lydney revival in the second half.

Indeed, the Wharfedale tackling will have made a lasting impression on several West Country men. One double whammy by Charlie Vyvyan and Dan Harrison left Lydney scrum-half Danny Bendall inappropriately flattened with an echoing thwack which probably brought smiles to the faces of auto body repairers in the next dale.

Greens' prop Ian Peel was not far behind in the destruction derby, and two of his crushing tackles might easily have reduced Lydney players to rectangular blocks of recyclable protoplasm.

The Dalesmen, hoping to improve on their unusual sequence of three drawn games, made three changes to the previous week's starting line-up, two of them positional. Recent recruit David Whitfield maintained his place at scrum-half after coming off the bench at Newbury and so Dan Harrison started his first full league game at outside half with Neil Heseltine reverting to fullback.

Whitfield, Adam Mounsey and Steve McManus were all members of the successful 1989 Bradford GS side coached by Geoff Wappett. Whitfield and McManus later teamed up with Jonathan Davies at Birmingham University, and the Greens' new scrum-half has recently returned to live in Halifax after playing for Selly Oak RFC in the Midlands.

Lydney's pack contained a quartet of county players and they included the Gloucester-shire fullback James Reid, formerly with Stow-on-the-Wold RFC, who scored all the club's 22 points the previous week against Harrogate.

Wharfedale started strongly and having secured the first lineout through their ever-impressive lock David Lister the pack drove for the line before choosing to scrummage when Lydney were caught offside. No 8 Vyvyan scooped up the resulting heel and back-pedalled over for the opening try with flankers Paul Evans and Hedley Verity in close attendance.

As the Greens retained the initiative centres Davies and Craig Walker were involved twice as the ball was switched from side to side, ending with McManus being squeezed into touch by the corner flag.

A powerful surge by the Wharfedale forwards, with prop Neil Dickinson and lock Dennis Wood in the thick of the action, took play to within close range of the Lydney line and hooker John Lawn was able to plunge over to record his 10th try in 90 league games for the Greens.

Mounsey converted to make it 12-0 after 12 minutes but then Lydney recovered from their shaky start to contest every scrap of possession.

Reid was wide with two penalty attempts as every semblance of rhythm left the game, but when workable ball came along the Whitfield-Harrison half-back pairing looked well equipped to exploit it. One joint effort took play 40 metres upfield and a second lightning break by Harrison would have given Mounsey a spectacular score had it not been for a marginally forward pass. Lydney counter-attacks were inspired by Reid but the Dalesmen went into the interval 15 points ahead thanks to a Mounsey penalty.

The game's best try came minutes after the restart when Whitfield's slick service sent Peel careering into the Lydney half. Evans, Vyvyan and Verity kept the momentum going and then with Lydney's defence in disarray Heseltine arrived to glide through the final 20 metres for a try by the posts. Mounsey's conversion and a subsequent penalty took it to 25-0, but the dogged visitors regrouped yet again.

Although there was no way through a resolute Wharfedale midfield Lydney grabbed a deserved consolation try when replacement Simon Wakeham peeled off a driven lineout.

The Greens finished the game as they had started, pressurising the Lydney line and they clocked up their highest league match total of the season following a quickly taken penalty in the Lydney '22'. Former North Division flanker Evans got the touchdown after the equally distinguished Vyvyan had been held on the line.

Overall it was a solid team performance by Wharfedale against opponents who never wavered in their commitment or self-belief.

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