Blaydon 19, Wharfedale 23

Wharfedale maintained their 100 per cent league record against Blaydon yesterday in a National League One match that, though hardly a classic, had excitement and drama in abundance – including a simply inexplicable decision by referee John Meredith to deny the Greens a penalty try at a crucial stage in the first half.

Forced into late changes in the forwards by injuries to Callum Connor and Richard Brown, the visitors struggled initially to contain the much heavier Blaydon pack, conceding a pushover try, claimed by hooker Matt Hall, and converted by fly half Richard Windle, as early as the fourth minute.

The set-pieces continued to prove problematic for the Greens, with quality possession at a premium.

Fly half Joe Ford got them on the scoreboard with an 11th-minute penalty, but three minutes later Blaydon’s second try, by flanker Scott Riddell, after a charge – led by massive outside centre Naude Pretorious – through the Greens’ defence, took the score to 12-3.

Ford cleared a second penalty in the 20th minute, but matters then took several turns for the worse for the Dalesmen.

First, a magnificent break by full back Andy Hodgson set up centre Mark Bedworth for a routine finish close to the posts.

Bedworth, unaware that he had a defender at his back, delayed his touchdown and had the ball jolted from his grasp.

Visiting fans had barely come to terms with that when Blaydon’s Kevin McShane broke down his wing and provided scrum half Tom Rock with a routine scoring pass, the conversion making it 19-6.

The Greens retaliated with a slick move that tore open the home defence.

With a two-man overlap, Hodgson aimed a pass outside. Blaydon right winger Matthew Dehaty prevented the certain try with a blatant deliberate knock-on.

Penalty try certainly; yellow card almost as inevitable. Mr Meredith, however, had an extended consultation with his touch judge and awarded just a penalty – though what for, and why, remains a mystery.

A side with less spirit could well have buckled, but Wharfedale reacted in the best possible way, and a degree of justice was obtained when a forceful disruption of a Blaydon scrum close to their line ended with flanker Dan Solomi grabbing a try.

Adrift 19-11 at half-time, the Dalesmen showed true grit and determination in the second period.

They survived Alastair Allen’s yellow card in the 45th minute, even cutting the deficit to 19-16 with Ford’s thrilling dash from halfway to the left corner during his absence.

Enter debut man Latu Maka’afi, late-draftee into the squad from the Foresters, to take a scoring pass from Bedworth, after the centre had made the telling break, and crash over in the 63rd minute for what would prove, with Ford’s conversion from the touchline, to be the winning score.

There was much shouting before it was all over, with chances for both sides, and manifest relief among visiting fans at the final whistle.

But the victory, ultimately, and deservedly, was Wharfedale’s.

Blaydon: A Baggett; M Dehaty, J Fitzpatrick, P Dias, K McShane; R Windle, T Rock; R Kalbraier, M Hall, A McKenzie, N Pretorious, C Wearmouth, M Wilson, S Riddell, J Smithson.

Wharfedale: A Hodgson; S Horsfall, C Malherbe, M Bedworth, L Gray; J Ford, S Cottrell (D Hall 75); T Horner (P Altham 77), S Graham (N Clarke 66), M Chivers, J Mason (L Maka’afi 48) A Allen, T Ball (C Howick 75), D Solomi, R Baldwin.