Difficult to give a quality report on this game. The score line suggests a comprehensive win for the Greens but in many ways it was quite disappointing. The Foresters never seemed to be able to open up the game, no matter how hard they tried and seemed incapable of making the visitors chase around, as they should have done. Admitted they were faced with opposition who were given a great deal of leeway around the scrum area, allowed throughout the match to block the home sides forwards from establishing cohesive movements. Very difficult when this is the case but possibly the Wharfedale pack should have been more savvy. Easily said from the touchline !
How then did they score 48 points? The electric pace of Robbie Davidson who ran in five tries, and excellent goal kicking from James Druce were contributory factors and whilst a win is a win, not many felt that this was the Foresters at their best. When the backs received good ball the writing was on the wall for West Park but during eighty minutes it proved extremely difficult to give them the freedom they craved , which would surely have resulted in a greater margin of victory. Credit to West Park for having a game plan and sticking to it, however you may look at it, including evaluating their tactics.
Early in the first half a break from centre Harry Bullough, put Druce away, this followed by one of several shrewd kicks Will Bell provided throughout the afternoon allowed Davidson in the try converted by Druce to establish a 12-0 lead. There followed a dreary period where the Greens forwards had difficulty providing any platform and the backs for a spell were starved of possession. A try though came for Luke Stevenson after a very good threequarters move, again excellently converted by Druce. Two further tries emerged from Davidson, one from another cross kick from Bell. The forwards, whilst subdued to a certain extent, strove valiantly to gain control, the front row of George Altham, Jake Parkinson and Matt Freeman solid as ever and Rhys Davies and Simon Borrill supporting. The latter had a very sound all round game. Back row, consisting of Alex Powell, Jack Kitching and Tom Whyte were effortless in attempting to free the shackles provided by the visitors. Whyte was superb in the line out, Powell in open play.
During the second half the replacements were utilised, Tom Carlisle, Chris Howick, Sam Smith, Tom Baines and Ralph Wellock. Every one of them dedicated to the cause and no momentum was lost. Max Bell, at scrum half, is developing along the right lines, proving an effectual partnership with Bell. There were a couple of sloppy periods for the Greens, allowing Bramhope to score two tries, neither converted but illustrating their determination and willingness not to roll over to the defending champions.
During the second period the home side went over for further tries by who else, Davidson, showing true speed and alacrity and a well deserved score from Baines. The on-fire Davidson still hadn’t finished and completed his fivefold in style. If it had been possible to release the backs more often, we would have been able to see how quickly they can cut a side down. Today was not the day and the team should be thankful that they have the ability to win matches, such as this, as comprehensively as they did utilising some of the strengths they have nurtured over the years. Missing was a lack of continuity and free flowing rugby. No one except Davidson deserves special mention but the feeling is that this young side will learn a great deal from the afternoon’s activities. It may appear churlish to be negative about such a result, but we can be sure they have more fire power than was shown.