Wharfedale Foresters 35 – 19 Hull Ionians 2nd XV

At long last, after a run of three matches called off by the opposition, the Foresters were able to have a proper run-out.

The Forersters had numerous changes, due to all manner of reasons, possibly turning out what could be considered a squad slightly below full strength. The Greens started off with great intent and immediately created chances putting Hull on the back foot, resulting in a try in the corner by Ralph Wellock , who was dangerous all through the game. This was excellently converted by James Druce from the touch line. The Greens then had a period of slack tackling and confusing tactics and more or less gifted a try to Hull, who, with a powerful run by one of their centres created a superb try. There was a sense of there being no structure or cohesion in the Foresters play and to be brutally honest this was the feeling throughout the game. Certain periods illustrated very poor defensive tackling and cover. It certainly called out for a senior player to control and organise things.

However they were more than prepared to continuously attack and after forward pressure Ian Larkin burst through for a good well deserved try which was again converted by Druce. Once again though the Greens seemed to take their foot off the pedal and after some helter skelter play, including more missed tackles, the opposition responded with a try and conversion, giving a score of 14-14 at half time. Centres Andy Rhodes and Will Davidson valiantly attempted to get the line moving, ably assisted by scrum half Max Bell but today was not the day when everything went to plan and to be frank the game consisted of a great deal of helter skelter play with no cohesion to it. It desperately required a controlling influence but that never became apparent. Structure was unfortunately never there.

The second half started with Will Lawn, a promising youngster, at number nine and he had a good all round competent game to his credit. Another good period of play by the Greens resulted in Davidson bursting clear to score another impressive try, duly converted by Druce and a score of 21-14. Yet again the Foresters seem to take their foot off the pedal and the visitors came back with yet another break away try. It must be mentioned at this stage that the line out was proving a disastrous area for the home team. This has been the case, in a great number of games, during this season.

Another well taken break away try by Hull was not converted giving a score of 21-19. At this stage things were certainly in the balance but it was difficult to understand why since Wharfedale had had approximately 75 to 80 % of the play but were prone to silly handling mistakes and lack of judgement at certain critical periods of the game. It must be remembered though that they had not had a competitive match for some four weeks. The Hull fly half , to his credit had been kicking superbly, both in attack and defence and possibly his judgement throughout the game kept Hull in a strong position. Wharfedale`s attempted kicking for position to gain any control was never good enough and possibly played into the opposition’s hands. This area in any game of rugby is prone to debate, to kick or not to kick, The Foresters flourish from running the ball.

It was a crucial stage of the game and Will Bell, after a thrustful burst through the middle, went in for a try, which was duly converted by Druce and giving the home side a 28-19 advantage. It has to be mentioned that after the first fifteen minutes of the game the Greens pack consisting of a front row George Altham, Dan Stockdale and Joe Jackson, assisted by locks Morgan Davies and Alex Powell were more and more announcing their superiority and this was beginning to tell on the opposition’s pack. Stockdale proved extremely powerful at any break down and scurrying to retrieve any loose ball. Davies is showing signs of maturing into his position. Equally impressive were the back row of Ian Larkin, Sam Smith and Matt Hall. The latter having a superb all round performance. The pack’s dominance as the game progressed became more pronounced.

As the match entered its final stages, the Foresters although still prone to some silly mistakes, remained more dominant and Lawn went over for a well-deserved converted try giving a final score of 35-19. Replacements Matt Close, James Arden, Harris Gatley and Mark Simpson came on at various times and left no one in any doubt of their capabilities. The Foresters are proud of their ability of being able to produce competent replacements at all times, no matter what the circumstances.

Vintage Foresters, no, but more a grafted style of victory, which, when you consider their lack of recent playing time and the changes made, gives credit to dogged determination and a will to win. At times this game was frustrating for Wharfedale’s supporters but they still did us proud and remain unbeaten in this new league. How many other Clubs would relish having the Foresters as their second string?

A selection of photographs is available under the Photos tab.

Team: – James Druce, Ralph Wellock, Andy Rhodes, Will Davidson, Will Lawn, Will Bell, Max Bell, Matt Hall, Sam Smith, Ian Larkin, Morgan Davies, Alex Powell, Joe jackson, Dan Stackdale, George Altham.

Replacements:- Matt Close, James Arden, Harris Gatley, Mark Simpson.

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