National League Two North: Sheffield Tigers 0 Wharfedale 16

WHARFEDALE battled hard in difficult conditions for a well-deserved victory on the road. Playing uphill in the first half, Dale dominated territory, and even though Tigers had plenty of ball they never got past the Wharfedale ten-metre line.

Wharfedale took the lead in the second minute after a superb finish by Oli Cicognini.

He collected the ball with 40 metres to go, and even with plenty of Tigers around he broke clean away for a try.

Tom Barrett’s conversion took him past the 1,000-point mark for Wharfedale, and he notched a penalty five minutes later to give Dale a 10-0 advantage.

Cicognini was soon yellow carded for a swinging arm in a tackle, but Tigers could not make their numerical advantage count, and the visitors came closest to scoring but the conditions proved too difficult and the chances to score were spurned.

One of the moments of the match came during this period.

Sheffield won a line-out on their own ten-metre line and, for some reason, Richard Rhodes found himself on his own trying to stop a pride of lions from making progress.

No progress was made and Rhodes forced a mistake!

The first half finished with neither side able to cope with the greasy ball but Wharfedale went into the break with a good lead.

Barrett opened up the second half with another penalty, and his kick off was returned by Tigers to near their own ten-metre line.

A good line-out was followed by six strong phases and a penalty 30 metres out.

Wharfedale pressed again and had a clear territorial advantage but errors in the last few metres meant that they could not cross the line.

A change in personnel did lead to Tigers making progress.

Replacement winger Charles Cone was on the end of an overlap and had room to run.

He showed great pace to charge up to Dale’s 22, but, with only Barrett to beat, Cone stopped and looked inside for support, with Dale's cover having time to handle the situation.

Wharfedale quickly made adjustments to their defence and again had Sheffield pinned in their own half.

Barrett missed a snatched drop-goal attempt after 65 minutes but made up for it with a successful attempt after 75 minutes to seal the game.

The position was set up after another turnover - a feature of Dale’s strong play all afternoon - was followed by six phases, giving Barrett plenty of space and time to take aim.

Sheffield’s restart was retaken and the home side mounted a strong attack, finding themselves as close to Dale’s line as they had been all afternoon, with an attacking five-metre line-out.

A successful catch and drive was held short of the line, and two phases later Cicognini emerged with the ball and the danger passed.

It was not a day for try scoring, but it was a day when the Wharfedale defence put in a fantastic shift and never relented.

Apart from in the last few minutes, Sheffield Tigers never threatened Dale’s line, with tackle after tackle being made to nil high-scoring Tigers.

Barrett got the nod as man of the match in the Rugby Paper, while Sheffield Tigers’ skipper gave the honours to Kieran Frost, especially for his work in the line-out, but the whole squad deserved to share the award.

It was not a spectacle of fast, open rugby - the conditions saw to that - but it was a day for players to step up and battle for field position, look after the ball and garner what scraps were on offer.

This happened and Barrett took full advantage.

Wharfedale: Robbie Davidson; Joel Gill, Tom Davidson, Rhys Lovegrove (Harry Dunne 63), Oliver Cicognini (Tom Mann); Tom Barrett, Phil Woodhead; Toms Asejevs (Joe Altham 40), Dan Stockdale, Reece Ward, Kieran Frost (Adam Howard 66), Richard Rhodes, Matty Houghton, James Tyson, George Hedgley Replacement not used: Stevie Graham.