AFTER a bright start on a glorious day, gloom quickly descended on Tynedale. The depleted team struggled to compete and the battle of the dalesmen was far more onesided than the score suggests.
Wharfedale began like headless chickens and, despite dominating the first ten minutes, found themselves 14- 0 down. They still trailed 24-22 at the interval after both sides scored three tries, but then pragmatism took hold and the tries dried up.
All 18 of the visitors’ second- half points came from the immaculate boot of fly half Tom Barrett, whose positional kicking was also very impressive.
So was Wharfedale’s scrummaging as their shunting of the lightweight Tynedale pack resulted in five of their seven penalties.
After the visitors’ first-half fumbles when trying to run everything, it made complete sense to fall back on a less risky route to victory.
But it was a surprise that Wharfedale spurned the chance of the four-try bonus point at the end.
Ten points up, they were not going to lose. They had a chance to kick a penalty to the corner and use their very effective driving maul, but Barrett went for goal and took his tally to 80 points in four games.
He leans the ball forward in the old-fashioned way and strikes it low, and if he continues in this vein there should be no repeat of last season’s relegation worries.
Tynedale, however, will face a fight to stay up on this evidence.
Without the experience of Jonny Williams and Andy Buist in the pack, they fielded three recent colts. The outstanding forwards were Wharfedale No 8 Rob Baldwin and open side Aaron Myers, who was involved in everything.
Despite the early attempts to be expansive, Myers’ fellow West Hartlepool product, Scott Jordan, saw little of the ball on the right wing on his comeback from a year’s layoff.
Instead it was the Tynedale pacemen who romped over for the early tries.
The game was barely a minute old when Barrett threw a long pass in his own 22 and home skipper Jack Harrison intercepted to score.
Wharfedale dominated the next eight minutes but then an attack broke down and Tynedale shipped the ball out for right winger Dan Rundle to score from 30 metres. Gavin Beasley added the conversions.
Having run their first penalty to no avail, Wharfedale kicked the next one, then Myers caught the restart and launched a high-speed attack which ended with full back Adam Whaites going under the posts.
The visitors were ahead after 25 minutes after a series of forward drives brought a second try, but then they knocked on in their 22 and from the scrum Beasley skipped past two tackles to go under the posts.
Stockton’s Steve Tampin tackles Durham’s Tom Hodgson
Wharfedale created another excellent try, only to be punished again for playing fast and loose when Hamish Smales intercepted. He was stopped just short, but the visitors were penalised and Beasley gave Tynedale an undeserved interval lead.
He was replaced by Kristian Borthwick, who has joined from Northern, while stalwart forwards Andrew Murray and Douglas Jupp went on to add their experience to the pack.
But Wharfedale battened down, drove the scrums and mauls, and Barrett did the rest.