Wharfedale showed their altruistic colours today by agreeing to travel to Cleckheaton, to accommodate a stag party in Amsterdam for one of the Cleckheaton teams players, in a game originally scheduled to be played on the Avenue.
The Foresters have, most unusually for them, endured a barren spell having lost three of their last four games and turned out today with the intention of quickly putting that record behind them and so they did. Convincing, not impressively so but they had to contend with a strong wind which affected several areas of the game and planned moves. The score line looks impressive but probably should have been more. However another five points in the bag !
Cleckheaton, who have quite a decent home record, turned out a team of considerable proportions but as the old Chinese proverb says ” the fittest Rottweiler will not catch the slowest Greyhound “. This was proved so in the early stages when Nathan Myers, from a tap penalty went in for a try, converted by James Druce, who kicked with great aplomb throughout. Shortly afterwards, Alex Powell fed by Tom Baines scored, not converted but providing a convincing early doors score of 12-0 to the Greens. The play in the middle of the first half became a little frenzied but emphasise a lot of this created by the conditions.
The Wharfedale pack were gaining ascendancy with the front row of George Altham, Jake Parkinson and Chris Steel proving not only powerful in the scrum but foraging forward at every available opportunity, the latter in particular showing his prowess with several penetrating bursts. Unfortunately he went off with what seemed a recurrence of the injury which has been keeping him out of the Club’s choices. The second row of Rhys Davies and Alex Powell were powerful, solid and dependable, Tom Whyte again proving his worth at number eight along with his fellow back row companions of Myers and Baines. Myers was prominent with his decisive power thrusts all through the game.
Before half time, from a rather dubious decision by one of the home teams defenders Baines pounced on his mistake scampering over for a try, making the half time score 24-0 to the Foresters. Early in the second half Powell was yellow carded, giving Cleckheaton the opportunity to fire back, which they did with a try, not converted but making it 24-5. Not to be daunted by playing with a man short, the Greens retaliated with a try from Altham, after good work along the line, to provide this opportunity. Again converted by Druce. From the above it may seem the backs were out of the game. Not at all but they did suffer from the conditions , obviously when passing moves were thrown of course by the wind and it was indeed a struggle to keep momentum to the accepted level. Max Bell and Harry Bullough, the half back partnership, did attempt to keep the line moving throughout the game and one move proving beneficial for the backs gave Andrew Foulds the chance to show blistering speed to go over in the corner. A lovely piece of opportunistic rugby.
The centres consisted of the old and the young. Andrew Hodgson providing terrific experienced attributes to illustrate to his younger playing companions the tricks of the trade and Jimmy Bullough, out of normal position, but giving a link to all moves the threequarters did attempt to provide all through the match. On the other wing from Foulds was Simon Borrill, out of position but who again proved the versatility of many of the Wharfedale squad. As is customary for the Foresters, the replacements consisting of Tom Walker, Jake Starkey and Sam Smith proved more than adequate and gave their all when introduced. The replacement bench, throughout the season has proved invaluable.
Late in the game Parkinson scampered over for a try, which provided a final and totally deserved result for the visitors at 43-5. Not a classic performance, sure the team would admit to this, but more a “professional” one enabling them to get back on track for the last few games of the season and now ground conditions are improving to illustrate the attractive fifteen man rugby they have become renown for.
Team :- Druce, Borrill, Bullough J, Hodgson, Foulds, Bullough H, Bell, Altham, Parkinson, Steel, Davies, Powell, Baines, Myers, Whyte. Replacements, Walker, Starkey, Smith, Burnett (not used)