There are not many days up at the Avenue when conditions for rugby are as near perfect as they were today. Fabulous autumnal weather and a very healthy crowd to watch the Foresters take on Heath Hawks.
The Hawks having recently returned some decent previous results up to this point in the season.
Prior to kick off a minute’s silence was observed by all for Armistice.
Foresters, playing up the hill in the 1st half, had difficulty in the opening stages. Their poor discipline gave the Hawks the opportunity to repeatedly initiate attacks by their big pack, resulting in a team yellow card for Dale.
The card seemed to concentrate the Foresters’ minds, and, after some resolute defence near their goal line, they managed to turn over the ball and play pragmatic rugby to clear their line and establish themselves in the Hawks half.
Dale were awarded a penalty after some sustained hard drives into the heart of the Hawks defence, which saw some good metres made. The Foresters opted to seek touch for a line-out close to the goal line. From the ensuing lineout and after several phases of play, centre Andy Rhodes ran a hard diagonal line and was stopped just short of the try line, where he offloaded in contact to the supporting back row forward Sam Smith, to open the Forester’s account 9 minutes in.
Wharfedale now played with pace and accuracy, with the forwards dominating the set piece and contact area against a battling Hawks team. At the 20 minute mark, a dominant scrum in the last third of the Hawk’s half near the touch line resulted in a penalty. The Forester’s open side back row forward Joe Fawcett saw an opportunity for a quick tap penalty and ran hard at the try line , being stopped just short. Hawks were struggling to get their defensive line in place, and after a quickly recycled ruck, lock Jack Burton drove over for a try under the posts that was duly converted.
After several stoppages for injuries, the energetic Foresters played some entertaining rugby with a sustained period of offloading from both the backs and forwards, resulting in back rower Max Mountain going in under the posts from 30 metres out to score with an audacious “Ash-Splash“. The try was converted, score 19-0 after 36 minutes.
Heath came back at Wharfedale shortly afterwards, and after an excellent defensive read 45 metres from the Forester’s line, Heath’s young inside centre ran in an interception try under the posts. The try was converted, and at halftime Dale led 19-7
Foresters in the second half now had the momentum of the hill, and after a fabulous miss pass from centre Andy Rhodes , right wing Luke Craven finished off a well taken try in the corner at the 47 minute mark.
Again, Dale were down to 14 on the pitch due to a yellow card.
They defended their line and managed to get themselves into a position just outside Heath’s 22-metre line when outside centre Josh Prell drove hard at the defensive line. Despite Hawk’s tenacity, he managed to regain his feet after not being held in the tackle, and with excellent footwork and pace, scored under the posts at 67 minutes.
It was beginning to look ominous for the hardworking Heath team, and shortly afterwards, after a well-taken line-out 25 metres out from Heath’s try line, Wharfedale instead of going for another anticipated driving maul caught Heaths rushing outside backs out with scrum half Ollie Bullock intelligently showing and going and taking the space between the tail of the line out and the half backs to score in the corner. A difficult conversion was kicked by Andy Rhodes.
At 75 minutes, another 5-metre attacking lineout for Wharfedale saw captain and lock Simon Borrill set up a drive, prop Jack Hirst locked onto the ball and drove the maul before transitioning to the young and impressive hooker Sid Holden to score.
Heath did not give up and went back down to Dale’s line, where they were turned over just short of the line before the referee, who controlled the game exceptionally well, blew for full time, resulting in a final score 47-7.
The Foresters are due to meet Sheffield Tigers next week at home, a double header with the first team.
Foresters: – 1 J Meehan, 2 S Holden, 3 J Hirst, 4 S Borrill, 5 J Burton, 6 Z Hayes, 7 J Fawcett, 8 S Smith. 9 Ollie Bullock, 10 M Bell, 11 L Craven, 12 A Rhodes, 13 J Prell, 14 F Walker, 15 O Hall.
Replacements: -16 T Whitehead, 17 M Mountain, 18. Will Lord.