Wath warm up for crunch clash

Wath centre Steve Mason, picture by Ian Balshaw
Wath centre Steve Mason, picture by Ian Balshaw

Wath upon Dearne RUFC warmed up for next week’s crunch clash with leaders York in good style, beating Pontefract 27-19.

Wath hosted Pontefract hoping to improve on last week’s disappointing performance, and bumped into a familiar face with last year’s coach Adam Bradley now in charge of Pontefract.

Wath were in no mood to do any favours for old pals, though, and opened the scoring inside the first quarter.

A powerful driving maul proved impossible to stop, and hooker Carl Mortimer surged over the line to take the lead.

The impressive kicking form of Andy Appleyard continued, as Wath took an early 7-0 lead.

The hosts hit back, and after a sustained period of possession they slotted a penalty to reduce the arrears to 7-3.

The seven-point lead was reinstated inside the first half, when sustained pressure inside the Pontefract half earned Appleyard a simple three pointer for 10-3.

The up and down nature of the game continued and, still inside the first half, the visitors had cut the Wath lead to just one point, to 10-9, at half time.

Wath surged further ahead in the second half with an early penalty from Appleyard, striking the ball sweetly from a difficult angle.

Pontefract hit back shortly after, however, with an impressive penalty of their own and the score was 13-12.

The visitors took the lead for the first time shortly after, when their outside centre showed a great turn of pace to race away and scorek, making the score 19-13 with 15 minutes to go.

Over recent weeks, however, Wath have learnt how to win the hard way - making games exciting spectacles, but tough on their spectators!

Wath hit back by playing through the phases well and finding Mortimer close to the line.

The forwards coach needed no second invitation to power over the line, and Appleyard again added the extras for a 20-19 lead.

Pontefract attempted to retake the lead with a drop goal but the attempt sailed wide, and with one minute left to play the victory for Wath was sealed.

Young back row Jason Wignell sneaked through half a gap and raced away to score, for 27-19.

Wath’s performance was solid but unspectacular, and there are plenty of aspects to work on.

Ian Barker impressed all game, running the show well, and Martin Balshaw’s work rate was outstanding.

But for his influence in both attack and defence, wing Tom Quinn earned the player of the match award.

On Saturday, Wath host Yorkshire One leaders York at Moor Road.

The Development XV continued their unbeaten start to the season with a superb 17-12 win against Old Brodleians, and the Wath youngsters now sit top of the Eastern Championship merit league.

The Third XV lost out 21-14 against Scunthorpe and, on Sunday, the Under 16s impressed in a 38-5 win away at Chesterfield.