This reporter has for a long time been pleading for better opposition for the Greens second team. Well here they certainly got it and in spadefuls.
Two things have to be mentioned. The first is that Mowden Park have thrown a lot of time, effort and money in recruiting a very strong squad and we have to retain a certain amount of scepticism that this could be their standard seconds outfit , for example they were beaten 50-20 last week by Blaydon. The second point is that for some reason the Foresters just didn`t turn up and were outclassed and outplayed in all departments. It had to happen sometime and this was the night.
From the start a jittery loose pass gifted Darlington seven points and the next twenty minutes were mayhem ! Darlington were bigger, stronger, faster and quicker thinking than their visitors, helped by the fact that the Greens poor tackling , passing and line outs kept them constantly under the cosh. The score at half time 47-0 to the home team. Could they reach a century was asked ? Visiting supporters in conjunction with the players were shell shocked.
The second half was much better for the Greens, contributory factors being that Darlington replaced some of their star players, Wharfedale stiffened their pack with Neil Dickinson now on and the pack as a whole even gained ascendancy in the scrums. As a result of this the visitors scored two tries by Alex Powell and Antony Oxley, both converted by James Druce and the two try scorers along with Jim Mason must be given praise for sterling work throughout. Rees Davies, coming on as sub also contributed well in defence and attack. Without seeming churlish, it was difficult to laud the performances of the backs. Sorry lads but you just had a bad hair day !
Whilst this mini resurgence for the Foresters was taking place, the home side kept up the pressure by scoring two tries, both converted, but it did mean that the second period was 14-14. Were the Foresters disgraced ? Not at all, it was one of those days and undoubtedly with the help of their excellent coaches a great deal will be learned from this encounter. It will also be very interesting to see what team Mowden Park bring to the Avenue in the return match ? Several of the players in this Foresters side hope to ,at some stage, play in National One. This game provided some idea of what is required to play at that level and how much work they will have to put in to reach that gaol. The team which is quite changed from the last two seasons, will also show improvement by playing together. All is not lost !
This report is submitted before the 1st team encounter, against Mowden Park at home. That should be interesting if we used the Foresters game as a guide line.