Otley 29, Wharfedale 34
This season’s Yorkshire Cup has taken a bit of a battering, with Otley receiving walkovers into the semi-final and Hull conceding a quarter-final to Bradford & Bingley.
However, a bit of lustre was returned to ‘T’owd Tin Pot’ tonight after an entertaining final on a perfect night on a perfect pitch at Wagon Lane.
A crowd of over 500 witnessed a match where Wharfedale threatened to take charge but could never quite shake off dogged opponents Otley.
The Greens counter-attacked when Otley lost the ball on the Dalesmen’s 22 in the second minute, full back Tom Barrett scoring and converting after a sweeping move down the left.
Otley fly half Mark Ireland landed a penalty two minutes later but Wharfedale capitalised on what coach Jon Feeley called an outstanding half-hour with a try for flanker Jack Barnard after good work by teenage winger Taylor Prell and centre Will Bell, Barrett converting and adding a drop goal for 17-3.
It seemed like the one-division advantage that the Greens had would hold sway, and by half-time their lead was still 24-10 after a converted try by Otley scrum half Steve Depledge was matched by one from the Greens via winger Josh Prell – Taylor’s elder brother.
The match had 33 free-kicks or penalties but no yellow cards, but it still had plenty of attacking intent, although nothing came of clean breaks by Wharfedale scrum half Phil Woodhead and Depledge in the opening moments of the second half.
If there was an element of fortune about the way Depledge’s pass bounced up for James White’s try in the 54th minute, the centre running through a chasm in the middle of Wharfedale’s defence, there was much to admire about how Otley refused to allow the Greens to pull away.
Barnard’s second try had surely given the Dalesmen an unassailable 31-17 lead just inside the hour but the Cross Greeners responded two minutes later with a converted try by right winger Harry Hudson.
Barrett’s 76th-minute penalty steadied the Greens’ ship but back came Otley in stoppage time with an Ireland try and conversion to leave the final margin at a mere five points.
Maybe there is still life in a competition that was first won by Halifax in 1878.