Wheatley kicked off knowing that they were going to be up against a strong Guisborough team.
With both teams looking nervous early on, it was Wheatley’s second row Stu Tijanic who set the tone with a big hit on the Guisborough centre.
Both sides battled hard with some superb tackling on Guisborough’s hard-running backs, enabling Wheatley’s superb back row of Sam Kerry, Ryan Craswell
and Tom Bullement to turn over the ball.
From a penalty inside the Guisborough half, Whealtey’s fly half Jack Craswell
kicked to the corner. From the resulting line out, taken well at 2 by Stu Tijanic, Wheatley drove the Guisborough pack backwards, enabling Sam Kerry and Ryan Craswell
to break off and maul their way to the line, with Sam breaking off and diving over for the first try.
With the conversion missed, Guisborough came back strong, with their strong-running right winger making ground on a number of occasions.
However, if Guisbrough had a weakness it was under the high ball. Following excellent chases and tackling by Wheatley’s centres Chris Blessed
and Liam Butler
, Wheatley gained a turnover deep into their opponent's half.
With Wheatley’s forwards driving well, and with strong work from props Danny Lawton and Brad Stevenson and hooker James Carlyle
, Wheatley were 5 metres from the Guisbrough line.
With the defence spread out, Wheatley’s scrum half Matty Free
spotted a gap and crashed over for the second try. This was converted by Jack Craswell
to leave the half time score at 12 – 0.
In the second half, Guisborough again started strongly, testing Wheatley’s defence, which time after time held firm.
Guisborough continued to press forward and used their backs to good effect. However, both full back Ben Fairclough
and winger Aaron Worthington made try-saving tackles to deny Guisbrough.
With 15 minutes to go, Wheatley had 2nd row Stu Tijanic sent off for an alleged high tackle. This spurred Guisborough on and, with their line under pressure, Wheatley lost their other 2nd row Ollie Moverley and full back Ben Fairclough
to two further yellow cards to leave Wheatley with 12 men.
This brought out the best in Wheatley as the remaining players pulled together and tackled as though their lives depended on it, led by captain Josh Barlow
’s fine example.
Despite Wheatley’s best efforts, the numbers eventually told, with some of the backs forced to defend tight to the ruck. Guisbrough went wide to their strong-running centre who sprinted over to make it 12 – 5. With only minutes left, Guisborough rushed the conversion and missed.
This left them with 2 minutes to secure a converted try to draw, and with Wheatley back up to 13 men, they held on for an excellent win.
Many thanks to the excellent supporters who travelled to watch, and to Moortown for a well organised tournament. Thanks also to the Sheffield and Old Brod’s lads for their best wishes.