For the sheer excitement of open running rugby, punctuated by the occasional indiscretion of youthful enthusiasm, you really cannot get better entertainment than a match between the Foresters and a student side, and this was no exception.
The home side fielded a number of players with first XV experience, but only three current automatic choices; that two of those were props, and the venerable presence of Neil Dickinson on the bench, may explain that the scrummage was the one area in which the Foresters had an edge, if only slight.
Making a first appearance at the Avenue was fly-half Luke Stevenson, who played an assured match outside impressive schoolboy scrum-half James Otulakowski, and opened the scoring himself when he scythed through the students’ defence from 20 metres, the damage first having been done by winger Josh Prell, returning to full fitness after injury.
If the home support felt that this was just the start they were mistaken, as the University side took charge for the remainder of the half; their flying backs found space ten minutes later to score wide on the left, but from there on fine Foresters’ defence restricted them to two penalty goals for a half-time lead for the visitors of 7-11.
When early in the second half a student sustained a horrific injury – a dislocated knee – the match was moved to the back pitch (the benefit of having two floodlit pitches) rather than attempt to move him, leaving that to the local ambulance service.
The game continued as it had left off, with the Greens defiant in defence, restricting the students to two more penalties (7-17). Then a yellow card for a visiting prop turned the match on its head: a line-out was followed by a catch-and-drive for a try by Simon Borrill converted, like the others, by James Druce.
Then with the clock running down, up stepped Wharfedale’s own student flier Robbie Davidson to score the try of the match, an individual effort, sprinting through heavy traffic from fully 40 yards to score under posts – and the match was won.