Sometimes these local derby matches are totally unpredictable. The Foresters’ very strong squad was fully tested by North Ribblesdale, who by their performance on the day surely showed that if they play with this intensity they will not long be languishing at the wrong end of Yorkshire One. Admittedly the Greens were one or two short of their best team but even so give credit to the visitors who played with great intensity and fully tested the home side. The match, played in front of a crowd of 573, provided good entertainment for a Boxing Day fixture and until well into the second half there was very little between the two sides.
first ten minutes were frenzied, neither side able to obtain a platform and best described as rugby arm wrestling. There was a lack of cohesion, reflected in the match being scoreless after half an hour. The Foresters somehow seemed devoid of ideas, and frustratingly for them it was the visitors who scored a very well worked and richly deserved try between the posts to giving Ribb a lead of 7-0. This was good rugby on their part, assisted by some sloppy tackling from the home team and yet again a total lack of team cohesion by them. Yet praise to Ribblesdale for taking the opportunity to exploit Wharfedale’s uncertainties, which were to be illustrated time and again. Certain positional changes did not help but you would have imagined team replacements would have been able to quickly adjust to what was required. Not so, as the visitors were determined to show that they were not here to give the Foresters a cake walk and so they did. Ribblesdale would not bow down.
Mention here of Ribbledale’s Moon and Moore, who organised the defensive role of the visitors to great effect and Ribblesdale manfully stuck to their task, not only during this period but throughout the match. Towards the latter part of the first half, however, it became apparent that the Green pack were starting to gain ascendancy and as the match progressed this was crucial to the final result. This again was mainly due to the indomitable front row of George Altham, Jake Parkinson and Matt Freeman, who really do provide the platform for Wharfedale’s powerful scrummaging. Altham in particular showed his skills in all areas, with several powerful foraging runs and a complete all round performance, making him a candidate for man of the match. In the second row Simon Borrill and Simon Willett greatly assisted the front row, providing a strong platform for the pack to become more influential as the game developed. Willett tested his fitness to the full, while for the opposition, Ryan Gill came up with several good runs on the wing.
Wharfedale’s back row were efficient without being spectatular, Jim Mason, Chris Howick and Tom Whyte having to use their defensive skills to suppress Ribbledale’s constant pressure. Howick did get the chance to illustrate his attacking prowess at every opportunity. Just before half time skipper Jimmy Bullough decided it was time to get on the score sheet and after a Ribblesdale infringement full back James Druce converted the penalty providing an half time score line of 3-7. No-one could doubt that the visitors deserved their lead, nor that the Foresters needed to get their heads around the fact that they would have to play better. They do have the habit of sometimes switching off and going into coast mode. Undoubtedly, during the break, coach Andy Hodgson made them aware of their shortfalls, and they came out with a more positive attitude.
A portfolio of images from this match, and of many of Wharfedale’s other matches, can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/128183691@N04/sets/72157649403140450/
The Greens’ backs had, in the main, been rather lack lustre and greater control of the basic skills were needed. Harry Bullough, who had demonstrated some quick thinking, moments went off injured, as did, shortly after, his brother Jimmy who had been his usual forceful self. Just before his departure, Jimmy scored his side’s first try at the back of a push-over, the try unconverted but the home side were now in front at 10-7. The replacement half-backs, Max Bell at scrum half and newcomer emerging from the Colts, Marcus Farnworth, at fly half provided perfectly adequate cover at all times.
The Greens were now taking control but never totally dominating, and it was no surprise that Ribblesdale came back at Wharfedale with a penalty to makeg the scoreline 10-10.
Ben Parkinson, Josh Prell, Andrew Foulds and Robbie Davidson in the backs just didn’t click exactly as was hoped, but Prell and Davidson when the opportunity presented itself showed how dangerous they can be, and in the last twenty minutes of the game were increasingly threatening to the Ribblesdale line, resulting in still more sterling defence from the visitors. Finally the continuous pressure told and Davidson showed his pace to score a lovely try, Druce unlucky with the conversion attempt which hit the post. Then Prell, not to be outdone, scored a similar try, opening up the Ribblesdale defence with a beautiful run, illustrating sheer speed and athletic ability. The conversion was missed for a final score of 20-10. The home team were guilty of several basic skill mistakes, which prevented them establishing momentum at crucial times, but the final score was probably fair enough.
During the second half, the Greens invaluable replacements entered the fray. All, once again, rose to the task , these being Joe Altham, Tom Baines, Sam Smith, Jack Kitching, Tom Burridge, Ben Booth and Marcus Farnworth. They all proved yet again how invaluable they are to the squad. Extremely encouraging was the introduction of the two Wharfedale colts Booth and Farnsworth
This as not a match which could be described as scintillating rugby but it was hard fought and Ribblesdale must be given great credit for the way in which they approached the contest. They refused to be overwhelmed by the Foresters and contributed to a most competitive occasion. We sincerely hope they have a better 2015, especially in the second half of this present season and on the showing provided in this game, surely that is just around the corner. There is too much talent there not to lift them out of their present predicament.
Foresters :- Druce, Parkinson B, Prell, Foulds, Davidson, Bullough H, Bullough J, Altham G, Parkinson J,Freeman, Borrill, Willett, Mason, Howick, Whyte. Replacements :- Altham J, Baines, Smith, Kitching, Burridge, Bell, Booth, Farnworth.
North Ribblesdale:- Thwaite M, Dakin M, Bolland, Moore, Gill, Moon, Fox, Newhouse, Henares, Thwaite J, Tunney, Carr, Thwaite A, Dakin N, Speres. Replacements:- Thwaite W, Richards, Boatwright, Naylor, Wallbank, Carr A, Carr G, Wilson, Knowles , Illingworth.