Second half Fight back seals victory
Promotion hopes get ever closer
Wath upon Dearne RUFC took a big leap towards promotion on Saturday as they faced second place Bradford Salem at Moor Road. Salem had won the reverse game at the very start of the season and Wath were well aware of how difficult this game was going to be. There was a worry that Twickenham fever would take hold of the lads but much to everyone’s delight this certainly was not the case. The visitor’s large pack would dictate much of the first half as Wath failed to get a grip on the game. Wath conceded a penalty early on at a scrum from a fairly kickable position but luckily the Salem kicker was off target. Wath looked to attack with a probing kick but Salem had other ideas running the ball from inside their own half. Lock Simon Lines would halt any threat as he turned the ball over and Wath took a scrum. In a reversal of the previous penalty Wath were awarded this one and up stepped full back Anthony Barratt. Seemingly from nowhere Barratt has found his kicking boots (sorry Baz buts it's true) and would ultimately prove pivotal to the result as Wath were first on the score sheet. Salem would enjoy the vast majority of the possession for the remainder of the half and eventually the pressure told as missed tackles in mid-field and a strong running angle allowed the visitors to race over. Salem continued to press and earned another penalty but once again the kick went wide. With the third penalty in a similar position Salem changed tactics and chose to take it quickly. This would ultimately prove costly as blindside Joseph Earp turned the Salem Number 8 over. Barratt would get Wath into the Salem 22 with a superb long range effort before prop Steve Clegg received the ball at a scrappy line out. The ball was moved quickly and stand off Martyn Bray made good ground but from the ensuing ruck Salem conceded a penalty for going of their feet which Barratt duly slotted. Salem fought back and through their huge pack surged over from a powerful driving maul. But Wath would have the final say of the half. The Salem 15 chose to run the ball from his own 22 but the defensive effort of Wath saw the ball turned over as he held on in the tackle. Once again Barratt was on target to leave the scores at 9-14 and set up a thrilling second half.
Burrows men needed to step it up a gear in the second half if they were to overcome their promotion rivals. The half didn’t start too brightly as they conceded a penalty early on that this time was slotted. However from here on in it would be Wath that would dominate. Wath attacked into the 22 and under pressure Salem conceded a penalty again at the ruck, this time however Barratt was just off target. It was a Joe Bartlett break that would ultimately spark the fight back, he surged into the 22 from half way evading a couple of tacklers on the way. The ball was recycled and captain Matt Burrows charged forward. The move was continued by Bray but a miss hit kick to touch stopped the attack. Salem returned to the Wath half but centre Andy Hopkin turned over his opposite number to win the ball back. As Salem looked to be tiring Wath were beginning to hit their stride. From a solid scrum Burrows fed Bartlett and the experienced scrum half had only one move he mind, he outpaced his opposite number and had the strength to stretch over in the corner. Barratt would strike the ball superbly from the touchline for a stunning conversion that would leave Wath just one point behind. Salem looked to attack and their pacey backs threatened Wath but from their final foray into the Wath half the ball was passed into touch to give Wath back possession. Still in their own half Wath cleared the ball down field. The Salem 15 ran the ball but once again met a solid defence and Wath won the ball back. Wath would remain entrenched in the Salem 22 and work the ball through the forwards. Under immense pressure the Salem defence creaked and as Burrows got within millimetres of the line the visitors were penalised from not rolling away. With a penalty under the sticks, Bartlett for reasons known only to himself looked to go quickly. Bartlett has blamed staying in on a Friday night for this lapse in concentration and has promised from now on to make sure he never stays home again before a game! Luckily Burrows stepped in and handed the ball to Barratt. 19-17 to Wath with two minutes left on the clock. Wath received the kick off and looked to keep it tight, the ball was eventually sent out to the backs but with time still to play it was the other half back partner who slipped up, Bray kicking the ball out on the full. Luckily however the Wath defence held out Bray won the ball back and hoofed the ball into touch to spark huge celebrations from the large crowd for an outstanding second half fight back. Man of the match went to Barratt for his cool head under immense pressure. Final score 19-17 to Wath. Wath now face another crucial match away to Yarnbury on Saturday.