National 2 North League

12/10/19 Tigers  34  -  18 Wharfedale

On a bright Grassington afternoon after a rabble-rousing PA announcement, Wharfedale kicked off down the slope. It was comfortably taken by Peter Swatkins who found a good touch on the 40m mark. Immediatley James Newman was in action stealing the Wharfe lineout ball allowing Ryan Holmes to give the backs a run. Unfortunately, some missed handling in the centre led to a Wharfe scrum. The first scrum was a steady affair with no-one getting the upper hand and the Wharfe backs had their first thrust at the Tigers defence. The Wharfe 10 Jack Blakeney-Edwards, 11 Oliver Cicognini and 15 Harry Bullough combined well with Bullough chipping ahead. Seemingly with the line at his mercy one of the Wharfe centres knocked on. Wharfe came out showing the threat that they were capable of in the early minutes. Mark Ireland cleared to touch from the ensuing scrum. Wharfe put the ball down the backs from the lineout and Newman put in a big hit in the centre of the field. Wharfe continued driving and again they chipped through, it was touched down by Swatkins who took it over. Wharfe had the 5m scrum. Wharfe 8 Chris Walker drove it off the back towards the try line but was met with stern resistance from Liam Wallace, it was recycled and Wharfe drove again, Al Symcox and Jack Redfern-Brown making sure that little if any ground was gained. Wharfe were in control of the ball and the Wharfe 12 Jon Moore was only put down at the third attempt but held on to the ball for a penalty to Tigers. The penalty was cleared to the halfway. The lineout functioned and the ball went smoothly down the Tigers backline to Swatkins who made a clean, sharp break and took the ball 25m, slipping inside to Holmes who was tackled. The Tigers pack picked up and went through a few phases. Holmes fed left to Jamie Broadley who went into a big collision with his opposite number. Ed Simmons drove from the ruck and with fast clean ball fed left to Swatkins who took the small gap and went over for the score on 5 minutes. Although Mark Ireland just missed the kick from the touchline, Wharfe were stunned by the electrifying turn round of events after their initial dominance of possession and territory. Wharfe retook possession from the kick off. They threw the ball about trying to open up the game but Ireland, Broadley and Joe Duffy were making good accurate, solid tackles. Wharfe camped just outside the 22m but they knocked on and gave the ball away. Holmes sent the ball right, Broadley made 10m, then Al Symcox drove off the back of the ruck as Tigers warmed up to this game and started asking questions of Wharfe. Nick Bingham, Will Archer and Simmons were combining with Lee Orton and Newman and making the hard yards. The ball made its way to Swatkins who kicked for touch but put it straight out. It was, however a free ball as the Ref had signalled and blew for an off-side penalty in the centre of the pitch to Tigers. Ireland kicked to 30m out from the Wharfe line, but the throw was adjudged not straight and a Wharfe scrum. To make amends the Tigers pack exerted pressure and took the scrum against the head. After moving the ball a chip went into the Wharfe 22m which allowed Bullough to mark it. Tigers took the lineout through the excellent Newman and for the following 10 minutes put Wharfe under a lot of pressure which they dealt with and finally got a chance to clear it up to the halfway. On 18 minutes Wharfedale took the ball into the Tigers half for the first time since the first few minutes and following a scrum, Wharfe broke right and make space for their right wing Rian Hamilton to go over in the right hand corner. Blakeney-Edwards missed the conversion and the game was tied at 5 - 5 after 20 minutes. Tigers kicked off and the game oscillated around between the 22metres for the next 15 minutes. Robbie Davidson, Swatkins making breaks, the pack taking the fight to the Wharfe forwards. Wharfe were equally up for it, their defence disciplined and putting some hard hits in themselves. Around the half hour mark, the Tigers pack came together in the tight and started pushing the Wharfe pack backwards. Only a metre or so, but this really blossomed (I knew I could get a Japan reference in!) in the second half when Tigers dictated the set scrums in a fashion that I have not seen for a very long time. Wharfe got into the Tigers half on 33 minutes and after securing their own ball under pressure from a scrum 30m out, put it down the line for Cicognini to drop it when it would have been easier to score. Tigers drove up through the backs, however Wharfe turned it over 20m out and Swatkins and Davidson combined to keep the Wharfe overlap from scoring. Wharfe kept driving through their hooker Dan Stockdale (hey he could be a relation?) and Henry McNab the Wharfe 9 pushed it left, a lovely flick pass in the centre and the ball ended up with Hamilton the 14 to go over in the right hand corner again. Wharfe deserved it as they had butchered 2 good looking chances earlier. The conversion was missed and it was 10 - 5 Wharfe. Two minutes later Tigers were in possession on the Wharfe 45m after good driving from Simmons and Symcox. From the ruck Holmes sent the ball right. Ireland to Tom Hart who drew the defence and gave Broadley a gap to run at down the right. Broadley bounced the two defending tacklers with venom on the 22m and ran in to score a magnificent try. Unfortunately Ireland was not able to add to the tally so the game was tied up 10 - 10. Wharfe landed a penalty on the half time whistle from 35m and they went in 13 - 10 ahead.
In a complete reversal of the start of the first half, Tigers kicked off, regathered the ball about 35m out, Holmes moved it left and after some neat and accurate inter-passing between Hart and Broadley, Ireland took the gap and swept in to score in a majestic manner. He converted his own try after making sure he was nearer the posts than his team mates had previously put him! And Tigers took the lead again 17 - 13. The game then entered an open and entertaining phase as Wharfe steamed down the pitch after kick off through Walker and Stockdale, the ball was flung to Blakeney-Edwards who went for the through grubber only for it to be agilely blocked by the visitors centres and retrieved, ending up with Symcox driving back up the field. The ball was kicked through and although both players collided in the air a penalty was awarded against Tigers. Wharfe kicked to the Tigers 22m but knocked on in the line and Tigers took the scrum which collapsed and penalty to Tigers. The pressure on the Wharfe pack was starting to show more and more. A series of turnovers followed with Ireland eventually kicking to the large space in the Wharfe 22m. Hamilton picked up, fed the supporting Bullough who kicked back to the Tigers half, unfortunately the catch was knocked on and Wharfe had a scrum on the 40m mark. It did them no good as Tigers tore into the Wharfe pack and sent them backwards, they came up and penalty to Tigers. On 50 minutes Greg Mellor came on for Davidson and Henri Packard replaced Duffy. Ireland kicked to the Wharfe 30m, Newman took the ball under pressure and Wallace with Redfern-Brown drove from the back, 4 more drives and Holmes whipped it to Ireland who with a slight of hand and  quick slip of the ball released the fresh legs of Packard who made 10m before being tackled. Bingham immediately there continued driving at the Wharfe pack and the pack went over the try line. The result was a 5m scrum defending ball (in old terms). Tigers pack drove Wharfe off the ball again and Wharfe went down for a penalty to Tigers. With the score so close, Tigers rightly opted for the points and Ireland made dead certain that Tigers went 20 - 13 ahead on 52 minutes. Wharfe kicked off, the ball was secured and Symcox made a wonderful drive from the back of the maul going right. The ball came back to Ireland who made a well judged kick of 40m into the Wharfe 22m. Wharfe secured a sloppy ball which was played back to the Wharfe 10 who ran into protection, the ball was recycled and then a skewed kick to touch gave Tigers the lineout on the 22m opposite side of the pitch. Tigers took a disciplined catch and made a series of drives through Simmons, Newman, Orton, Bingham and Archer to within 5m of the try line. The ball was then passed quickly down the back line, Packard got held up but the marauding Broadley, ripped the ball out to keep play on the move. A knock on was adjudged  however. Once again Tigers drove the Wharfe pack backwards and 10m from their own line the Wharfe 9 McNab was forced to kick to touch to relieve the pressure. Up to the 40m line where although they took the ball, they were disposessed in midfield as the Tigers back line cranked up the pressure and swiftly moving left the ball was given to Packard from Hart with 15m to the touch line. A beautiful half dummy made the opposition winger hesitate a nano-second which was more than enough for Packard to rip through the gap, over the try line and run round to touchdown between the posts on 57 minutes. What a variety of power and skills combining elegantly for the score! Ireland made sure once again and Tigers extended their lead to 27 - 13. The bonus point try was a great one! Wharfe did not expect to be in this position and their open play started to have a look of desperation creeping in as time started to become their enemy. They kicked into the Tigers 22m and they went through several phases interspersed with back line testing runs, until on 57 minutes as Wharfe drove to within a metre of the tryline, McNab was able to pick up from the back of the ruck and hit the whitewash for Wharfe’s third try, but still Blakeney-Edwards was unable to convert, maintaining his 0% conversion ratio. Back they had come to 27 - 18 on 62 minutes and hope sprung eternal in the Wharfedale (rather subdued) crowd. On 65 minutes Will Bennett replaced Will Archer in the front row. On 70 minutes in a rather threatening manner Newman separated person from ball in the middle of the park for a scrum to Tigers. A lovely pick up from the back by Symcox driving into the Wharfe centres, passing to the ever supporting Holmes and onto Swatkins who had looked on fire all game. He was eventually brought down and with the Wharfe pack scrabbling to get their hands on the ball, Tigers protected it and Bingham drove from the back, forcing a penalty from the home team. Ireland coolly placed his kick into the left hand corner. Tigers lost the lineout and Wharfe kicked 35m down the left touch where the ever present Swatkins caught it with one foot placed in touch for the Tigers lineout. Thrown long it was picked up by one of the Wharfe centres and play moved down field. The open play and good handling produced a half chance for Hamilton who kicked through for a Tigers line 15m out from the tryline. Tigers throw was given as not straight, Wharfe went for another lineout (not surprisingly). They took it, passed it wide and tried to run round Mellor, who stopped the momentum with his tackle. Wharfe still drove for the line, the maul went down and Tigers were awarded a scrum. It was cleared up to half way where Tigers were awarded another scrum which went down again and Tigers had the penalty. This was kicked to the right touch 30m out as Tigers tried to put their lineout right. Unfortunately another not straight and Wharfe opted for the lineout. This has been the worst period of lineout discipline all season, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. From the line out Cicognini was put into space but knocked on. From the scrum Mellor, Broadley and who else? Packard was through for another try giving an easier conversion for Ireland and Tigers increased their lead to 34 - 18. Joe Fitzsimons came on for Orton on 77 minutes as Wharfe were now desperately throwing the ball around. A penalty kick to the left hand corner gave Wharfe a lineout and the opportunity for a last minute driving try. Tigers pack held firm on several phases and then a penalty was awarded to Tigers. It was not too clear why from the touchline and it wasn’t too clear for a Wharfe player who said so and conceded another 10m. Discipline boys, discipline!! Ireland took a tap penalty with the scoreboard showing 80 minutes and then kicked into touch for the ref to blow the final whistle.

Scorers: Tries: Broadley (1), Ireland (1), Packard (2), Swatkins (1)
Conversions: Ireland (3)
Penalties: Ireland (1)

Team: Bingham, Archer (Bennett), Simmons, Orton (Fitzsimons), Newman, Wallace, Redfern-Brown, Symcox Al, Holmes, Ireland, Davidson (Packard), Duffy (Mellor), Hart, Broadley, Swatkins

Replacements: Bennett, Crofts, Fitzsimons, Mellor, Packard

Match Report by:  Paul Wrench