Nuneaton 34, Wharfedale 27

Wharfedale will surely be kicking themselves after losing this National League One match yesterday.

And wondering – having led 27-15 with barely five minutes of normal time remaining – how they contrived to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!

The Nuns, already condemned to relegation, conjured an improbable, but splendid three-try surge to turn the game on its head.

The Greens, admittedly, did their best to assist the hosts with a combination of sloppy use of the ball, flimsy tackling, and penalties needlessly conceded in dangerous positions.

Undoubtedly, the absence of a number of influential players, plus a tough midweek cup game, were significant factors in what was a very unWharfedale-like capitulation.

It all began well enough, with winger Simon Horsfall’s early try, and throughout the first half the Greens looked to have the beating of a team that had won just five times this season, and went down 68-18 at Blaydon the previous week.

Nevertheless, the Dalesmen had to come from behind twice – a converted try by home lock Llyr Griffiths preceding winger Dave Hall’s interception try in the 27th minute and full back Dan Hart’s try in stoppage time cancelling out one a minute earlier by Nuns full back Sean Denning, leaving the half-time score at 15-12 in favour of Nuneaton. A break by centre Andy Hodgson set up fly half Luke Gray for a try a minute after the restart, and when flanker Dan Solomi crossed in the 57th minute, Mark Bedworth converting, the outcome looked settled at 27-12.

Nuns scrum half Huw Thomas began the fightback with a 65th-minute, and then came the rousing finale.

Tries by winger Stefan Cooksammy in the 76th minute and substitute back Ray White two minutes later, with one conversion, levelled the scores.

Denning applied the coup-de-grâce in added time with his second try, converted by Thomas, and the five-point haul that the Dalesmen know they should have secured was reduced to just two bonus points.

Wharfedale: D Hart (I Dixon 45); S Horsfall, A Hodgson, M Bedworth, D Hall (S Graham 61); L Gray, P Woodhead (D Matthews 50); B Fear (N Dickinson 63), M Chivers, C Steel, O Renton, R Rhodes, A Allen, D Solomi, R Brown.

Nuneaton: S Denning; O Smith, M Moore, K Collins, S Cooksammy; L Roy-Smith, H Thomas; J Taylor, A Bray, S McCarthy, C Wilson, L Griffiths, I Critchley, B Avent, M Aston.

Referee: Richard Kelly