Strong Skipton Performance not enough to beat League Leaders
By Lee Shaw
Positive atmosphere at Sandylands despite defeat
Wensleydale had Storm Eric at their backs from the kick-off and used the wind advantage to good effect to notch up an 18-5 half time lead which Skipton were not able to redress despite some formidable second half forward play.
The home side had a strong opening five minutes and found themselves in Wensleydale's 22 thanks to a penalty for the visitors lifting the scrum. Skipton hooker Ryan Chafer (Ma B) recovered at the breakdown but the game was brought back for an earlier infringement and the visitors slotted the penalty kick with the following wind for the opening points of the game.
Second row Rick Willsher (A&G Plastics) set up good platform ball for Skipton from the re-start but a penalty to the visitors saw them punt the ball down field. An error by Skipton put the ball over their own line. Wensleydale were over from the five metre scrum for an unconverted try to stretch their lead.
A knock-on from the re-start kick gave Skipton the scrum. Strong forward work took them to the visitors' line. Skipton gained two successive penalties five metres out. They opted for the scrum both times with No. 8 Harry McEneaney (Ryan Binner Plumbing and Heating) going over for a try, to the delight of the home crowd.
Wensleydale came back strongly and put the ball into the corner. A text book forward move from the line-out gave them their second try, which was converted to stretch their lead to 15-5.
Skipton's Kiwi signing, prop Tyrin Wyllie, had to retire injured being replaced by Skipton stalwart Mark Davison (Seddon and Davison). Wensleydale ran a free kick for a Skipton foot-up at the scrum. It was compounded by a penalty for Skipton handling on the ground. With the strong wind behind them, Wensleydale took the chance of a kick at goal and stretched their lead to 18-5.
Just before the break, back chat to the referee gained Wensleydale a further 10 metres and Skipton a yellow card for full-back George Smithson (Metclafe's Driving School). Skipton Coach Craig Bartlett (Pure travel/WBW) brought forwards Harry Maltby (Gerigraph Construction Solutions) and Mal Willsher (A&G Plastics) on for the second half, together with young Jake Emmison (Sponsorship available) in the back line.
Wensleydale gained an early penalty for Skipton not rolling away but the attempt at goal went wide. The visitors kept up the pressure on Skipton through many phases of play but a dropped ball on the line gave momentum back to the home side. A crunching tackle into touch by Davison raised the home crowd's spirits. Although pinned back for handling on the ground, Skipton stole the next line-out and entered their best period of the game with sustained forward play bringing them to within five metres of Wensleydale's line. Scrum-half Jack McLeod (Drake and Macefield) stole the ball from the base of Wensleydale's scrum, to the roar of the home crowd, but time had run out and the Dalesmen had earned a two try victory.