Wharfedale 24 v 12 Hull Ionians
By Malcolm Knowles
Anything I's can do, 'dale can do better.
Ionians fluctuating fortunes took another dip after defeat at the hands of a Wharfedale side who dogged out a heroic win, clearly motivated by the perceived injustices meted out by Tim Allatt.
Certainly there were more cards on view than there were incidents of running rugby, but a depleted home pack, reduced by the dismissal of Matt Houghton for uttering a rude word within earshot of the referee after half an hour of play, made light of the task. They overwhelmed the visitors “up front” and claimed 4 of the total 6 tries scored following successful catch and drives.
As is often the case at Threshfield the side playing down the slope have the ascendancy and the visitors took full advantage early in the game. Virtually from the start Ionians parked down in the bottom corner and gained reward in the eleventh minute.Following a series of penalties, which saw Walker the first to be carded, a fourth line-out was cleanly taken to be driven over for a try, credited to Dave Laverick.
Ionians returned to the home 22 from the re-start and it took a valiant defensive effort from the Greens to withstand the barrage, but they eventually broke from defence to challenge the Ionians line. The aberration by Houghton looked as if it would derail the dalesmen but instead it spurred them on and they worked the ball to within 5m of the Ionians line to drive the ball into touch. The resulting line-out was cleanly taken and with re-enforcements arriving from the backline ‘dale drove over for Dan Stockdale to dot down. Blakeney- Edwards added a well judged conversion to nudge Wharfedale in front.
The Green’s maintained their momentum and the pressure they applied as they attacked the Ionians line had Joe Makin binned. On the stroke of half time the hosts repeated their earlier feat, with Stokedale on hand to double his tally. Wharfedale went into the break with a tenuous, hard earned advantage, 12 – 5.
Ionians held a clear advantage out wide but had been unable or unwilling to utilise the pace of Minikin, Wilson and Kuku in the first half. They looked to be making amends in the opening minutes of the second half when a number of breaks stretched Wharfedale and indicated that Ionians would be able to redress the balance.
However, the home defence stood firm and it was ‘dale who were able to extend the lead with the home side re-acquainting themselves with the bottom corner and in the familiar environs took another clean catch and rolled in field for Reece Ward to drive over. Blakeney Edwards added the goal and Wharfedale opened the gap to 19 – 5.
Minikin and Kuku combined to take Ionians up the touchline and into the home 22. As the Ionians pack drove for the line greens prop, Toms Asejevs intervened illegally and Ionians kicked to the corner. Surprise, surprise, catch and drive and over, with Ally Forth claiming the try. Minikin converted to put Ionians back in touch, 19 – 12, with a quarter hour remaining.
The final minutes were pure slugfest with both sets of forwards intent on gaining superiority. The home side came out on top. Ionians had a chance to cut the deficit when they utilized the backs, but when play broke down and Ionians were awarded a scrum deep in the home 22 the referee allowed the home scrum-half to clear the ball from the set piece with his boot and chance was gone.
Inevitably, given what had preceded it, the final score, gained by the Greens, was the result of a penalty kick to the corner, a successful take and a drive to the line. Chris Walker, who had worked tirelessly throughout, claimed the score and despite the missed conversion the partisan home supporters went into raptures as they celebrated a richly deserved and vital victory.