WHARFEDALE may not have gained any points from their 43-30 National Two North defeat at Sedgley Park but the mood around the basement boys was much more optimistic this week.

“We aren’t shying away from where we are in the table,” admitted the Greens’ head coach James Doherty ahead of their home clash with Sheffield Tigers on Saturday.

“But there were loads of positives from the weekend.

“We had a couple of personnel changes but essentially the squad was the same as that which has under-performed so far this season.

“We were strong in defence, our set-piece went well and we started well for once, and were only trailing 10-6 after 38 minutes when we gave an interception try away but hit back with a penalty before half-time.”

Among those to shine were Adam Howard and George Hedgley in the pack and Oli Cicognini in the backs.

Doherty said: “Oli has probably been our most consistent performer this season, and I include the forwards in that.”

He added: “I wouldn’t like to have Adam running at me. I might have to try and pull him down by his dreadlocks!”

But many of the best performances last weekend were from players who weren’t first-team regulars at the beginning of the campaign, such as lock Kieran Frost, replacement back Charlie Graham, winger Ben Parkinson, scrum half Archie Hancock and full back Tom Mann.

Doherty said: “Kieran, who has had to bide his time for an opportunity while getting adjusted to the level of rugby, was probably our stand-out performer and has made himself a genuine first-team squad member.

“Charlie did well on the wing, and Ben, who had to play out of position in the centre when Joel Gill went off, did well defensively.

“Archie, who knows that he is only there because Phil Woodhead is injured, didn’t look out of place and has a good head on his shoulders. We can develop him, while Tom has come through our minis and is getting better every week.”

On Saturday’s visit from eighth-placed Tigers, Doherty said: “They will arrive full of confidence, having become the first side to turn over leaders Stourbridge this season, but we know what they are about with their exciting backs, and they also have some handy forwards.”

In the only change to the Dale team, James Tyson returns in the back row and replaces the unavailable Chris Swainson. With Jim Mason still nursing an injury, Frost gets another chance in the second row after his strong performance last week.

Wharfedale: Tom Mann; Ben Parkinson, Joel Gill, Tom Davidson, Oli Cicognini; Tom Barrett, Archie Hancock; Joe Altham, Ian Larkin (c), Reece Ward, Kieran Frost, Richard Rhodes, Adam Howard, James Tyson, George Hedgley. Reps: Dan Stockdale, Toms Asejevs, Stevie Graham, Tom Whyte, Charlie Graham.