Wharfedale 26

Sheffield Tigers 35

SPARKLING play from their backs saw the Sheffield Tigers roar again at the Avenue.

The Wharfedale forwards were strong throughout the game but the Tigers were quicker and more clinical in the backs.

Wharfedale started strongly and three tries took them into a 19-point lead.

Sheffield Tigers were held in their own half from the kick-off and forced to kick. Tom Mann collected the ball and set up quick ball. Two phases later Dale won a penalty which was taken quickly by Phil Woodhead, and Harry Bullough finished off the move. Jack Blakeney-Edwards converted.

Sheffield Tigers were awarded a penalty soon after the restart and when the kick at goal hit the upright, they regathered the ball and spent time in Dale’s 22. A forward pass ended this brief incursion.

The Wharfedale eight won their first scrum penalty of the afternoon and Blakeney-Edwards sent the ball forwards 40 metres for a Wharfedale line-out in Tigers' territory.

Two phases after the line-out Wharfedale passed the ball into touch. Tigers won the set piece and swung the ball left and their dangerous backs ran the ball up to Dale’s 22 and won a penalty, but Jo Duffy missed the relatively easy three points.

Woodhead ran out of defence and the promising break out was stopped by the referee who spotted a forward pass.

Dale were handed back the ball as Duffy continued his woeful afternoon by dropping the ball. This pattern was repeated two more times. Dale’s forwards won the ball back only to see a mistake by the backs.

Eventually Dale started playing without error and pinned Tigers deep in their 22. The pressure eventually told and Bullough scored from a lovely offload by Oli Cicognini. Blakeney-Edwards converted from the touchline.

Soon after the restart Wharfedale were handed field position with a rare mistake by the Tigers’ fullback, and from another scrum that saw Sheffield going backwards the ball was spun to right wing Ralph Wellock. The Sheffield cover forced him into touch short of the try line.

Dale continued their occupancy of Tigers’ 22 and from a five metre scrum Josh Burridge picked up and crashed over.

Something then happened that not many spectators have ever seen before; the conversion was charged down.

Tigers then hit back. They quickly worked their way into Dale’s 22 and set up Thomas Hart for a try. Duffy converted.

Tigers got the second converted try on the stroke of half-time with Jamie Broadley benefitting from a well-timed inside ball. Broadley got the ball 37 metres out and left Wharfedale chasing shadows.

The home side started the second half with renewed vigour but were stunned when a yellow card was produced for Burridge.

Duffy again missed the penalty kick and Dale were soon out of their half and on the attack.

Sheffield took the lead with a well-supported break out from their own 22. Kain Rix touched down and Robbie Davidson added the extras.

The Tigers’ backs were now beginning to open up and threatened nearly every time they got the ball.

Peter Swatkins was introduced and his fresh legs were full of running. The alarm bells should have rung when he collected a clearance kick and ran past the chasing players; the attack finished when his pass went into touch.

Back came Dale with a well taken, bonus point try by Matty Houghton to lead 26-21.

Dale had good field position but did not add to their score. Sheffield defended well but Dale should have extended their lead.

A flipped one-handed pass went astray and Tigers sent the ball up to half way.

Dale pressed, but then a decision that seemed to defy logic turned the match in Sheffield’s favour. Cicognini was clearly high tackled but was pinged for not releasing after the tackle. The touch judge seemed to be trying to intervene and correct the ref but communication had either broken down or he was ignored.

Sheffield did not complain and fired the ball into Dale’s 22.

The visitors finished the stronger; scoring two more tries both converted by Davidson. Broadley scored both, completing an impressive afternoon’s work by grabbing a hat-trick.

The last try frustrated the crowd as Dale had just defended their line and a Houghton surge took the ball up to Dale’s ten metre line. Quick ball was not run against a retreating defence but a kick ahead was fielded by Sheffield and passed to Swatkins just outside his own 22. He ran through gaps before setting up Broadley for a run in.

Wharfedale: Tom Mann (Will Edwards 75), Ralph Wellock, Harry Bullough, Rhys Lovegrove, Oli Cicognini, Jack Blakeney-Edwards, Phil Woodhead (Sam Gaudie 64), Joe Altham, Dan Stockdale, Reece Ward, George Hedgley (c), Ben Leacock, Matty Houghton (Chris Walker 75), Chris Walker (James Tyson 54), Josh Burridge. Replacements not used Jack Hirst, George Martin.