Aire 37 v Wharfedale 22
Despite missing influential prop Vaughan Reeves and the tackling machine Haydon Pickett, Aire still had a large squad for this encounter with Wharfedale. The game was played over 3x 20 minute periods to allow teams to rotate players and manage game time.
Aire had been on the end of a hammering away at Dale last season, so needed no motivation to continue their run of good form. Aire exploded out of the blocks from the first whistle, with no 8 Joe Priestley making good metres into the heart of Dale's defence. Quick ruck ball allowed Danyal Aslam time to whip the ball to his left and neat passing led to play being held up in a maul 5m out from Dale's line. After 3 weeks away with a head knock, winger Jacob Bevan made an instant impression as he ripped the ball out from the maul and dived in at the corner.
Aire gathered the restart and a series of powerful surges and effective rucks, saw them advance up field and back into Dale's red zone. Wharfedale were solid in the tackle, but somehow Lewis Watson managed to stay on his feet and drag at least 2 defenders over for Aire's 2nd to make it 10-0. Dale are a quality side and some poor discipline allowed them to secure good ground deep in Aire's 22. Dale were awarded a penalty 5m out and a quick tap saw them score and close the gap to 5.
Aire snapped back into life from the re-start and the ball was shipped to Sammy Woodley, who scythed through Dale's defence and made a 40m break. He was eventually hauled down within inches of the line, but new player Josh Wood was on hand to scoop up the ball for his first ever Aire try, which was converted by Spencer Wood. Miles Sexton fielded the re-start and raged up field with purpose.The pack were hungry for work and cleaned out the ruck which gave Danyal a good platform. Aire were camped on Dale's line and the clearance kick was mistimed and fell straight into the bit mitts of captain Johnny Ivory who flopped over from 25cm out. This was to be the last play in the first period.
Aire unleashed the bench in the second half with the lads knowing that they needed to put in a shift to keep up momentum. The reorganisation took some adjusting, which Dale capitalised on and made Aire pay with an early score to cut the lead to 22-10. Aire gathered themselves and the 9 & 10 axis of Freddy and Eliot began to find some rhythm. The back line was looking slick and inside centre Sammy Woodley was a constant threat. Aire got back into Dale's 22 and were awarded a penalty, which Jake Baker ran onto like a man possessed. He was finally hauled to ground, but this created space for Lewis to score another 27-10. The next score was a peach, with the back line executing with precision to put the impressive Josh Wood in space and he raced in to score the try of the match to make it 32-10 at the break.
Aire rotated again for the final third and got off to a flier when Sammy Woodley put Joe Boughton into space and he gassed the defence to score a lovely try out wide 37-10. In a quest to give equal game time, Aire lost a bit of momentum and shape in the last 15 minutes and conceded 2 tries to a Dale side which fought to the end refused to buckle. The game finished 37-22 to Aire and in truth Aire were good value for the win.
Aire's team is showing good progress and the new lads are gelling week on week. This was a step up in performance and it's difficult to single out players; however Sammy Woodley had a marvellous game and Josh Wood put a marker down at centre. The forwards provided the platform and Eddie Farnell, Johnny Ivory, Joe Priestley, Miles Sexton and Calum Diamond were outstanding. The 2nd row is an area of strength, with Tommy Rollinson, Jake Baker and Tom Ayrton pushing hard for starting spots.
Aire entertain local rivals Yarnbury at Fortress Nunroyd this coming Sunday & undoubtedly will be looking to build on this performance.