Hull Ionians 25 Wharfedale 32: Greens in for bonus as Ionians are kept waiting

A HIGHLY entertaining and competitive Yorkshire derby, a credit to both sides, may well have ended with Hull Ionians losing their eighth game in succession, but if they continue to play with such force, commitment and spirit, they will not have to wait much longer for their first win at this level.

Philip Woodhead of Wharfedale tries to tackle Alexander Campbell of Hull Ionians
Philip Woodhead of Wharfedale tries to tackle Alexander Campbell of Hull Ionians

The Hull team, in their debut season in National One, remain bottom of the league, but they will gain much encouragement from this performance.

Late in the second half, they were drawing 25-25, and while gaining a losing bonus point, Ionians should be disappointed with their meagre share of the spoils.

By contrast, Wharfedale, who earned a maximum of five points, are delighted and demonstrated how accustomed they have become to playing successfully in this league.

By scoring four tries, two by Dan Scarbrough, the former England, Wakefield, Leeds, Saracens and Racing Metro winger, 35, the Greens showed their opponents how to ruthlessly convert scoring opportunities.

Ionians were unable to match Wharfedale’s speed of thought, experience and quick handling, but they won sufficient ball to score three fine tries through flanker Mark Wigham, centre Lloyd Hayes, on loan from Rotherham Titans, and prop Toby Williams, another player from that Championship club who is playing competitive rugby in National One.

Wharfedale, seventh in the league with the satisfactory record of five wins from eight matches, dominated the first half and deservedly led 22-8 at the interval.

A try on five minutes by No 8 Rob Baldwin and tries on 32 and 38 minutes by Scarbrough, plus three conversions and a penalty by impressive fly-half Tom Barrett, put the Greens in control, or so it appeared.

However, Ionians started the second half strongly and fought back with relentless determination to the extent that Wharfedale’s lead was cut to 22-15 and when Williams charged over for a third try, converted by Hayes, Ionians had the momentum and and were drawing 25-25. However, they were prevented from turning this favourable position into match-winning reality.

The recovery was inspired by an outstanding try from Hayes, whose strength, speed and balance enabled the centre to break through Wharfedale’s defence, and with the former Chester player adding the conversion, Ionians’ self-belief grew.

Hayes continued to play a significant role as his second penalty on 64 minutes, an accurate kick from 40 metres, reinforced the pressure on Wharfedale, but Ionians were prevented from turning this promise into what could have been their first win.

Indeed, conceding a penalty on 77 minutes was arguably the incident that ensured Wharfedale’s victory.

With the score at 25-25, the Greens took a quick penalty.

Flanker Aaron Myers, a constant menace, burst downfield for the match-winning score and with Barrett converting, Wharfedale grabbed the five league points in a contest during which the gap in class between the two sides was not as clear as the National One table suggests.

“Last season, we would have got away with silly errors, but this season teams capitalise on our mistakes,” explained Ionians captain and lock Joe Makin, in his fourth season in charge.

“The effort is there, but it’s about changing our mental attitude. Concentration is the key.

“The boys are stepping up physically and while we get a lot of possession, we give the ball away too easily and then teams score.

“As a team, we are confident we can stay in this league. We have a big squad and strength in depth.

“We are optimistic and once we get our first win we will get rolling.”

The Greens’ fifth league victory should become a sixth this Saturday given home advantage against Cinderford, but they must not repeat the lapses in concentration which almost handed a win to Ionians.

“It was tougher than it should have been. We let them back into the game with a lot of silly mistakes,” explained Myers, whose late try confirmed the bonus point.

“I owed the team a try because I gave away too many penalties, but I hope I will be forgiven.

“We dogged it out, got the win and showed a bit of character.

“In one aspect we had a good day at the office but not so good when you consider we took it so close.”

Meanwhile, Hull Ionians, whose enthusiasm cannot be faulted, travel this weekend to Blackheath, and if they reveal the same commitment seen in this Yorkshire derby, they may cause an upset and return to East Yorkshire with their first win National One.

Hull Ionians: Wilson, Slingsby, Hayes, Martin, Steel, Reakes, Green (Thomas 53), Williams, Rice (Thomson56), Johnson (Laverick 40), Makin, Sanders, Argyle (Hague 53), Wigham, Campbell.

Wharfedale: Georgiou, Scarbrough, Donkin, Davidson, Prell, Barrett, Woodhead (Dudman 64), Altham, Stockdale, Steel, Brown,Rhodes,Barnard,Myers,Baldwin.

Referee: A Rawson.