Otley Outwit Dale In Pre-Christmas Dullness

It's now what we here in the UK refer to as Boxing Day, the day which follows Christmas Day itself. Traditionally it's a time for eating leftovers and sleeping off excesses of the previous day. It's also Tuesday - three days after the encounter between Otley and Wharfedale.

Otley pass, flicked behind, I think. Not cropped - to show the crowd and not the graininess

Before the memory disappears in a mist of alcohol and frivolity I thought I'd write a few lines about the afternoon from ickledot's point of view. I know you're becoming completely fed up with my going on about the darkness in recent match posts. What else could I expect in the depths of a Yorkshire December? This afternoon it really was dark though, and it wasn't just me saying it. Though the people at Otley had made every effort to counter this by scheduling the kick off for 2pm, the heavy cloud which had covered the county all morning seemed to grow ever heavier and darker throughout the game.

Photography was difficult and so, it appeared, was playing rugby. There were many errors from both sides and little free flowing rugby. Otley scored early and were able to maintain this lead throughout the game despite the impetus switching to the visitors at various stages.

Otley's Brett Mitchell (left) and Wharfedale's George Hedgley - In The Trees

A late try enabled Wharfedale to gain the consolation of a losing bonus point, the final score being 20-13. It was another defeat though, leaving them rooted to the foot of the table and, as their match report highlights, "a mountain to climb in 2018" if they are to avoid relegation. The win moved Otley up a place in the league but hardly into a region of comfort. While separated by only a point or two from teams below, there's a little gap appearing between them and teams above. Perhaps the Christmas break will recharge them both for a positive second half of the season.

Dale's Robbie Davidson in full flight - off the ground!

It was good to catch up with several former Yorkshire Under 20s champions in George Hedgley, Tom and Robbie Davidson and Josh Burridge, who is hopefully coming to the end of a long and frustrating period of injury.

Possibly my favourite of the day - Dale's Adam Howard drives forward. I think the graininess looks better in black and white

I've managed to come up with seven favourite shots from the game. Has to be said, none would make a 'favourites of 2017' collection I'm currently compiling. They're just too dark and grainy. You can see more over on Flickr.

Pass from Otley scrum half (and try scorer) Joe Rowntree. Like the way he can be seen between the receiver and another team mate.

It's looking like this was my last game of the year so I'll leave you with my best wishes. Hope your Christmas holiday is the happiest ever for you and let's hope that 2018 is good for all of us. The little video above, entitled Drive Dale Drive, illustrates how dark and gloomy it was. It's also part of a new year resolution to persevere with a YouTube channel. Watch this space!

Otley's Kyle Dench looking especially happy - illuminated by a new toy which I'll tell you all about in a future post.