Wharfedale 34 Leicester Lions 30

A FEAST of nine tries saw Wharfedale edge out Leicester, but a spirited Lions fightback meant the result was in doubt until the final whistle.

Dale led 13-8 at half-time and opened up the second half in confident style. They stretched the lead to 19 points before a resurgent Leicester made the match close.

The hosts conceded the first points after an early error. A knock on gave the Lions a scrum on Dale’s 10 metre line and Devon Constant created space for Edward Sumpter to charge through.

Missed tackles allowed him into Dale’s 22 and good handling eventually saw John Murdoch touching down for an unconverted score.

Dale took the lead through two penalties from Jack Blakeney-Edwards, with both fashioned by good aggressive running, and the stand off then showed his prowess with ball in hand by skipping past two tacklers for a try and adding the extras.

A Harry Key penalty for Leicester ended the scoring in the first half but he was unsuccessful with a couple of audacious attempts at goal from inside his own half and wasted some much easier chances by running or kicking to the corner.

Leicester were made to pay for that profligacy. Phil Woodhead opened the scoring for Dale in the second half with a converted try and then Rhys Lovegrove also touched down for Blakeney-Edwards to add the extras from the tee.

The Lions hit back almost immediately with tries from Constant, Alex Wilcockson and Max Titchener, but a couple of missed conversion left the hosts still 27-25 in front.

Wharfedale regained their composure and a strong tackle from Harry Bullough, with Oli Cicognini and Ben Blackwell on hand, forced the penalty decision for not releasing.

A kick to the corner led to a catch and drive and another penalty. This time, Dale opted for the five-metre scrum.

With James Tyson in the sin bin for a no arms tackle, Cicognini added his considerable bulk to the pack. They drove to the line and with the Lions infringing and stopping momentum, the referee went under the posts for a penalty try.

Dale now had some breathing space and they needed it, as with three minutes to go, Constant got his second try. There was no conversion but the gap was now only four points.

With strong tackling, including a Jack Hirst cruncher, the Lions were pinned back in their own half and Dale clung on to the victory and a hard-earned five points.

The Lions were very good value for their two bonus points and were unlucky not to end up with more.

The introduction of Joshua Leonard on 55 minutes transformed Leicester and he upped the tempo of their attack. Constant was a thorn in Wharfedale's side all afternoon, scoring two tries and competing for the ball all over the park.

Apart from that 10 minutes in the second half, when Leicester scored three tries, this was a solid performance from the Greens, who have now won three games on the trot and are sixth in the table.

The front row was powerful all afternoon and there was no let up for the Leicester pack when Joe Altham and Reece Ward were replaced by Hirst and George Martin.

The back five worked tirelessly all afternoon and the backs also played their part. George Hedgley again led the team well and he was supported by Josh Burridge, whose tackle count was outstanding.

There were mistakes but, as with last week away at South Leicester, the team won a match that, in the past, has tragically been thrown away.

Wharfedale: Will Edwards (Tom Mann 73), Liam Hamilton, Harry Bullough (Ben Blackwell 52, Will Edwards 77), Rhys Lovegrove (Harry Bullough 60), Oli Cicognini, Jack Blakeney-Edwards, Phil Woodhead, Joe Altham (George Martin 72), Dan Stockdale, Reece Ward (Jack Hirst 74), George Hedgley (c), Ben Leacock (Kieran Frost 52), Matty Houghton, James Tyson, Josh Burridge.