Harrogate 2nd XV 27-36 Foresters

With many of the team having played in the bruising Yorkshire Cup match against Hull on Thursday night, the Foresters travelled to Harrogate with a number of men carrying knocks and several late replacements. To come away with a bonus point victory against a strong Harrogate side was testament therefore to a truly impressive and committed performance of which all the Foresters’ squad should be truly proud.

The early pressure belonged to the home side and Harrogate were rewarded with a penalty to take the lead. This seemed to sting the Foresters into life and they dominated the rest of the half. First, Oliver Whyte, who is improving with every week, finished off some fine handling after an attacking line-out to score in the corner. The ever-reliable Andy Rhodes added the conversion.

Harrogate did add another penalty before Wharfedale scored two quick tries before the halftime break. A line-out was pinched and the ball moved wide. An excellent long pass from Rhodes released debutant Adam Stockdale who scampered over in the corner. Rhodes again converted from wide out to make it 14-6. Shortly afterwards the forwards drove a line-out, Simpson and Lawn combined well in the centre and Oliver Whyte fed Sam Mason, who crashed over. The conversion was almost inevitably knocked over by Rhodes and the Foresters held a 15 point lead at the interval.

The second half started in much the same vein as the Foresters worked through numerous phases of play until the Harrogate defence was out flanked for Mason to stroll in for his second try. To show he was human, for once Rhodes was just wide with the conversion. Ten minutes later, the line-out produced quick ball, Rory MacNab’s quick service allowed Rhodes time to feed the juggernaut that was Jake Starkey. Starkey’s great running angle and pace onto the ball sliced though the Harrogate defensive line and there was no stopping him from 20 yards out. With the conversion the game looked to heading for a comfortable Wharfedale victory but events were to mean that was certainly not the case.

Following Starkey’s try Harrogate produced their best rugby of the match. Perhaps Thursday night’s efforts were starting to take their toll but for the first time in the game Harrogate dominated territory and possession. The Green’s defence was still tremendous with the back row of Sam Smith, Tom Whyte and Anthony Oxley, outstanding. Smith and Whyte eventually had to be replaced through injury. The turning point came when Elliott Ward, who along with Morgan Davies and later Rhys Davies, had a fine game in the second row, was yellow carded somewhat unfortunately. At least it was unfortunate that the referee judged that only one of the two players involved in a minor scuffle should be sent for a rest.

The scrum, down to seven, held firm or indeed still advanced. The front row of the Jackson brothers either side of the indomitable Jake Parkinson were definitely to have the last laugh. However, the pressure told and Harrogate claimed two converted tries. A nervous end to the game was guaranteed when Mark Simpson saw yellow for a mis-timed tackle just after Ward had come back on. A further try with five minutes still to be played brought Harrogate within a score.

Playing with a man short for twenty minutes of the second half on top of the short turnaround from Thursday night’s game would have proved too big a hurdle for most sides. The Foresters’ spirit and determination in defence dragged them through. They worked their way down the field and with the clock almost dead were awarded a scrum. With a full eight the Green scrum drove Harrogate back and forced the penalty. Up stepped Rhodes to cap a magnificent team performance and the lead was nine points, with no time for any more drama, the victory was ensured.

Team: –

1. Joe Jackson
2. Jake Parkinson
3. Tom Jackson

4. Morgan Davies
5. Elliott Ward
6. Anthony Oxley
7. Sam Smith
8. Tom Whyte (c)
9. Rory MacNab
10. Andrew Rhodes
11. Oliver Whyte
12. Mark Simpson
13. Will Lawn
14. Adam Stockdale
15. Sam Mason

Replacements: –

16. Jake Starkey
17. Rhys Davies
18. Dan Benson
19. Robert Burnett
20. Michael Beer

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