This has been a somewhat unusual season for the Foresters. Every year you expect injuries, team changes etc. but few compare with this one for frequency of these unpredictable occurrences and credit therefore to all concerned for the way they have surmounted all problems and once again provided success and credit to the club.
Highlights of the season included the league performances, where once again the Foresters retained their Yorkshire Premier Merit title, and victories over Yorkshire Under 20s, Leeds University and Leeds Met University, Darlington Mowden Park and Loughborough Students, the latter two reversing comprehensive defeats.
The squad have had to reorganise themselves, sometimes at the last minute, which provides an even further example of a wonderful spirit, not gung ho but more a” sort it out” attitude and a great deal of this comes from their phlegmatic coaches, Andy Hodgson and Phillip Peel, ably assisted by Rob Burnett and their delightful physiotherapist Verity, what a great team and one of them is good looking ! Surely now is the time to praise Michael Harrison for the hours he must have put in arranging such a varied fixture list, once again often at relatively short notice and the above mentioned personnel go a long way to making the Foresters what they are.
Regarding this game. Hartpury College filled in at late notice, after Hull Ionians couldn`t fulfil the fixture, and all thanks to them for undertaking this end of season match. They gave the Foresters a lesson in this case and ran away with a game in which the home side committed error after error throughout and never put on a display with which we associate this team. This was a pity as Hartpury warranted meeting the Foresters at their best.
There is a case for excuses to a certain degree in so much that the home side had not played much rugby recently, several positional changes, players returning after injury but to be frank these are fairly weak reasons and Hartpury were a competent well drilled side who took the game to Wharfedale at all times and were just too good on the day.
The Greens set off well with in the early stages, a well deserved try following strong forward pressure, allowing Jack Kitching to dive in for the score, not converted but giving every encouragement there would be more to come from the home side. Unfortunately this was not to be , as Hartpury regrouped and went on to score points at regular intervals throughout the rest of the match, with practically all their tries converted by a very good kicker.
The Foresters played well in patches with one or two scintillating breaks, only to be spoiled by poor passing and the forwards, even though trying manfully were eventually getting second best in all phases. They were not helped by sloppy retention of the ball when under pressure. Yet again when creating any game urgency they invariably spoiled it with poor passing or wrong decision making at crucial times allowing the visitors to capitalise on their mistakes.
Thankfully there were positives to take from the game. Alex Wade, a debut player at prop, had a very strong all round game and is an encouraging prospect for the Club and would have been man of the match for the home team. In the backs Simon Crabtree stood out, making strong runs whenever given the chance and his tackling abilities shown to good effect.Harry Croft coming on later in the game had a very positive performance, both in attack and defence. Difficult to comment positively on other players as several played very well in patches and then spoiled it with erratic decisions. One of those days, it has to be said but only a blip in another very good season and will not take away the memory of many terrific performances they have provided throughout this campaign. It would not be fair if it wasn`t mentioned that Hartpury are a very good side and it was a pleasure to see them at Wharfedale.
Foresters: Harry Catley, Ralph Wellock, Ben Booth, Harry Bullough (c), Simon Crabtree, Max Bell, James Otulakowski, Alex Powell, Tom Burridge, Anthony Oxley, Jack Kitching, Simon Burrill, George Altham, Jake Parkinson, Alex Wade. Replacements: Tom Walker, Rob Burnett, Harry Croft. Replacements not used: Dennis Wood, Chris Bullough.