Well here we are sports fans, after what seems like an eternity the rugby season is finally back. After a light pre-season to allow players time to return from injury it was difficult to ascertain how the season would start, especially when Wetherby started by hosting Wath. The visitors ended last year with a string of victories to end up finishing 3rd in the table, and would offer a big challenge to the boys in red and white.
It took 20 minutes of the game before any of the action happened as the opening quarter was littered with errors from both sides. The Wetherby forwards were stoic in defence but were unable to build any sort of pattern in attack. The only point of note from this period was a Wath penalty to open the scoring. 0-3.
Wetherby started to switch on after the penalty and after some dominant midfield carries from number eight James Carson, an opening down the right hand side was created but the ball went to the wrong man and the attack broke down between the Kaye brothers. Hopefully with Jack moving back home, they’ll be able to iron out these issues in the garden.
They say that when you get a player returning from injury it’s like getting a new signing, however I’m not sure anyone would be signing Rob Adair in his current state. It was the warthog’s sumptuous long pass however that set Myles Oates free from the back of a scrum. Having finally lost the boils that covered him all summer, he looked like a man unchained as he ghosted past the Wath defence for the game’s opening try. 5-3.
The first try had given Wetherby confidence and an obvious lift in tempo put the home side on the front foot. With the combination of Harry Kaye at 9 and Archie Youlden at 10 starting to purr, Wetherby started to camp in the Wath half. A strong blind-side carry from Steve Hoather fed Jim Greenwood and after spending the entire summer indoors to avoid sunstroke Jimbo Slice was making the most of his venture outside as he stormed over from 20 yards to stretch the lead before half-time.
Half-Time: Wetherby 12-3 Wath-Upon-Dearne
With Wetherby going in ahead at the break, they knew the game was theirs for the taking if they kept their focus, something that had been badly lacking for large parts of last season. Matt Bartle and Bradley Mason had done an outstanding job holding their own against Wath’s supersized scrum, and the pack had managed to stop every driving maul at source. It was the home side that took the early advantage in the second half as Steve Hoather burst through the defence and flattened the full-back as he rolled down the field like a runaway boulder. 19-3.
Wath seemed to be creaking under the pressure being imposed on them and made a total mess of clearing a probing kick from Archie Youlden, giving Wetherby a scrum deep in the Wath half. For the forwards this has historically meant breaking their spines to win the ball, only to watch the ball get knocked on at first phase, but this season feel’s different. Coach Geoff Brown, rugby’s answer to Marcelo Bielsa, has managed to turn these backs into a work of art. Even Amazon has enquired about making a documentary about our season. AJ Hills have fine-tuned his potato farming hands into those of an artist, and his sleight of hand put Jack Kaye through a gap, and JK’s new found dad-strength was more than enough to power him over the line for Wetherby’s bonus point try. 24-3.
Every encounter the boys in red and white have ever had with Wath has seen a period of sustained possession from the visitors, and having just conceded their fourth try Wath came back fighting. Wave after wave of heavy forward carrying smashed into relentless Wetherby defence. The visitors were kept out close to the line again and again with Sam Woodward, Jim Greenwood and James Carson making notable dents in the Wath ball carriers. Wath kept their patience however and after what must have been north of 20 phases created an overlap on the outside and scored a brilliant team try. 24-8.
Again Wath struggled to deal with clearing the ball from their territory, and again Wetherby made the most of this advantage. A strong carry from Danny Warden in the midfield allowed Steve Hoather to make another half break, before delivering the ball on a plate to Harry Kaye for him to run through under the sticks. An absolute gift of a try, and something that should inspire Harry to bring Steve something back from his holidays this week. 31-8.
Wetherby looked to be in total control but a rare missed tackle in the backs allowed Wath a breakaway for the first time. Despite busting a lung to get back and make a try-saving tackle, Adam Shaw was harshly adjudged not to have rolled away from the tackle and was sent to the sin bin for the rest of the game, soon followed by Danny Warden for a no-arms tackle as Wetherby had the final ten minutes to play with thirteen men.
One of the major features of the game was Wetherby’s relentless defence. Huge tackles from Jim Greenwood and Myles Oates around the fringes were backed up by great scramble defence in the backs from AJ Hills and Alex Parrish. The defence held out for seven minutes but Wetherby were finally breached as Wath’s captain broke over the line. 31-15.
Wath were determined to try and get the most out of the game and again attacked the depleted Wetherby side in the final moments. Having held solid at the scrum, finally the extra numbers took their toll on Wetherby at the end of the game with Wath scoring in the corner with the final play of the game.
Full-Time: Wetherby 31-20 Wath-Upon-Dearne
A fantastic team performance to start the season from Wetherby, who travel to Roundhegians next week to play a fixture they are yet to win since joining Yorkshire 2 three years ago.
MOM: Steve Hoather – Gets bigger and bouncier every year.
DOD: Danny Warden and Adam Shaw – Yellow cards must be punished!