With the Foresters game against Ilkley cancelled, the 1st XV away at Fylde and the Rams climbing onto Mick Greenwood’s truck for a trip over the river, the Greens Development XV enjoyed a healthy little crowd at the Avenue for their top of the Yorkshire Merit League – Championship North fixture against the Moortown 2nd XV.
It is worth remembering that the Wharfedale side are the only “3rd string” team in the division playing against 2nd XV’s from the likes of Otley, Old Brods, and Heath. Nevertheless they went into this game against second place Moortown as league leaders, with a 100% home record.
The Development side is a strong unit; a combination of young up and coming players and the odd senior player on return from injury, all ably marshalled by the evergreen Jonathan Davies (“JD”) at fly half. On Saturday it even saw the return of Will Davidson returning to competitive action from the bench.
This side have an open running style, very similar to the Foresters, but, on a filthy day not ideally suited to slick handling. They also have JD rolling back the years with searching kicks that kept their opponents penned in their own half for much of the game. It was one of these punts five minutes into the game that ultimately led to the first score. A scrum on Moortown’s 22 metre line was won by the Green’s dominant set piece and strong drives by Jack Kitching and Matt Colgrave set up the opening for JD to waltz through the defence and then convert his own try. 7-0 to Wharfedale.
Moortown nearly struck back immediately. Again under pressure in their own half they intercepted a loose pass and their full-back went the length of the field only to be denied a score by a last ditch tackle from Ollie Bullock and outstanding green defence on their own goal line. Defence soon became attack and Ollie was back in action completing the breakout with a try at the other end of the pitch. Converted by JD. 14-0.
Moortown then missed a penalty kick and the Dale’s forwards regathered the 22 dropout and drove the length of the field via maul and offloads, eventually setting up Matthew Colgrave for a try from close range. 19-0 to Wharfedale.
The remainder of the half saw Moortown pinned back in their half and defending resolutely but the pressure eventually told with a fine try from Ollie White in the corner. The half closed with the Dale’s pack on top in the scrum and a try from prop Huck converted by JD. Half time 31-0 to Wharfedale.
The second half was a rather more turgid affair. Moortown saw a bit more of the ball but could do little with it in the face of ferocious tackling from the men in Green and the third quarter became a stalemate in the rain and cold.
Josh Prell livened up proceedings with a fantastic break that led to a shirtless Ollie Bullock (left behind in a maul!) scoring his second try, converted by JD. 38-0. A similar scintillating break by Ollie B led to a Tom Oakes try again converted by JD.
This was to be the end of the scoring but the Wharfedale support still had much to cheer. A superb break from Kitch, huge hits from Joe Metcalfe and Josh Prell and a JD side-step and swerve that would have had his dual-code namesake purring with pleasure.
And so the Development XV march on, top of the league, destination Keighley…