Wath 52 Stourbridge 7
Wath upon Dearne RUFC made history on Saturday as they reached the first national final in the clubs long history. In the most highly anticipated match in the clubs history Wath emerged victorious with a resounding 52-7 defeat over Midlands based Stourbridge Lions. It proved to be a day for the Wath history books as the biggest crowd ever seen at Moor Road gathered to cheer the lads on, and thankfully they did not disappoint. Wath kicked off the game but with the adrenaline pumping conceded a penalty immediately for taking the man out in the air. From here on in Wath would make their intentions clear with a devastating first twenty five minutes. Stourbridge set up a maul from a lineout but blindside Joe Earp was able to rip the ball out and give possession to Wath for the first time. With a penalty kick to touch Wath emulated the visitors and set up a maul which made good yards. The ball was recycled and the ever impressive Dean Hardcastle charged into the heart of the visitors defence. Captain Matt Burrows got Wath within metres of the line with a powerful run before offloading to lock Richard Hill who surged over the line for a marvellous first try to settle the nerves. Full back Ben Keen would enjoy a solid day with the boot landing the conversion. Wath were caught napping from the restart and conceded a soft penalty but the Stourbridge kicker was off target.
The next ten minutes saw some of the best rugby seen all season at Moor Road. The front row of Hardcastle, Ball and Myers wreaked havoc for the visitors at scrum time and under pressure the Lions 9 was snaffled by open side Steve Wesson. The Lions managed to maintain possession and shipped the ball out to the backs. Up stepped standoff Martyn Bray who put in a crunching tackle on the opposition 12 and turned the ball over. Keen slipped a tackle and made good ground before Burrows and Hill continued the move surging into the 22. Earp continued the move producing a thunderous hand off to evade the defender but Wath were guilty of rushing the ensuing play. Scrum half Joe Bartlett settled the tempo and from another driving maul Wath surged towards the try line. It is now written in Wath RUFC law that the only player that can score from a maul is lock Simon Lines and this game was to be no different. Driven on by the power of the Wath pack Lines squeezed over to give the home-side a 12 point advantage. In that passage of play the young Stourbridge prop received a nasty looking arm injury that forced him from the field, all at Wath wish him a speedy recovery and return to the game. Lines was instrumental in the next score as he turned the ball over on half way, Hooker John Balls work rate was monumental throughout and he showed a suprising turn of pace to race up the blind side. The ball was quickly recycled and found Bray in midfield. He slipped his opposite numbers attempted tackle and had just the full back to beat from the 22 metre line, he pinned his ears back, dummied the full back and raced over for a stunning try. Wath were 19-0 up on twenty two minutes. Almost immediately Wath were on the score sheet again, the Lions looked to ship the ball wide but it was intercepted by Bray, he knew he would not have the pace to get away so popped to centre Andy Hopkin who made good yards before drawing the defender and feeding speedy outside centre Steve Mason who raced over.
The forward effort by Wath was outstanding during this period creating the space for the Wath backs to run the ball, the teamwork on display a great spectacle. Burrows would set up the next score as he broke through the defensive line and surged into the 22. Wath remained patient and marshalled by Bartlett worked through a number of phases of forward play. With the Lions defence beginning to creak Bartlett spotted the smallest of gaps, dummied to pass and went over himself to give Wath a half time lead of 33-0.
With the first half being played at such a high tempo it was inevitable that the second half would slow down a little. But Wath were wary that they could not sit back. After all they were playing for a place at the home of rugby. The first minutes of the second half saw a few unforced errors as Wath tried to over think their play. The duo of Hardcastle and Burrows would settle things down however. Hardcastle took the ball forward but was brought down 10 metres out; he popped the ball superbly from the floor to Burrows who dragged defenders with him over the line for a great try. Stourbridge looked to attack and worked the ball from inside their own half but were met with solid tackles from Bray and youngster Ashley Rothery. Wath turned the ball over and worked through the phases, the ball found Rothery out wide who raced into the 22, the ball was again recycled quickly and Mason received the ball and dummied his opposite number to race over. Mason would grab his hat-rick shortly afterwards. Hooker John Ball produced a superb long pass out to Keen who in turn passed to Rothery, he put his foot down and raced to within 10 metres of the try line before popping the ball inside to the supporting Mason who sprinted over. This would leave the score line at 52-0 with 10 minutes to go and would mark the end of the scoring for the Moor Road men.
Stourbridge earned a deserved try as they worked the ball through a number of hands before their impressive Captain Stuart Doolittle scored out wide. The conversion was slotted superbly from the touchline. The final minutes would see Wath pressing inside the Lions half but meetig a solid defence. Final score 52-7. Cue huge celebrations and some very sore heads on Sunday morning. Scrum half Joe Bartlett was awarded the man of the match by Elegance Bridal Studio & Sensational Formal Hire. Every single player performed out of their skin and were a credit to Wath upon Dearne RUFC deservedly earning their place at Twickenham on 5th May 3pm KO. Stourbridge never let their heads drop and proved a real force at the rucks, their vocal supporters further credit to their club. But they met a Wath side that was fiercely determined to get to HQ. Special mention to referee Dave Edmonds who was impressive throughout, communicating superbly with the players and allowing the game to flow. Wath face Somerset based Wells RUFC at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 5th May 1pm KO for the RFU Senior Vase. Baildon and Ilkley also won their respective competitions to make it 3 Yorkshire clubs at HQ on the day, a great achievement for the county and big congratulations to our fellow Yorkshire clubs. Twickenham Here We Come!!