Given Tynedale’s well-documented injury list, it was hardly surprising that their seconds showed up at the Avenue with a side reduced in experience and short in numbers. That they turned up at all when other clubs would have cried off was no surprise either, and reflects great credit on their fine club.
With James Huck and Tom Walker starting for the visiting opposition, the Greens set about their task and throughout the match were just too sharp for the visitors, who never flinched under what was a considerable onslaught , never lost their cool and whenever given the opportunity showing glimpses of what a decent side they could be.
Early in the game, a quick moving passage of play gave Josh Prell the opportunity to cement his reputation as a clinical finisher, a try converted by James Druce who was today at centre, allowing Prell the full back position. Very soon after Simon Willett pounced for a push over try, as in the early stages the Wharfedale pack was dominant, not converted but swiftly followed by Harry Bullough, sprinting through a massive gap to add another try, converted by Druce. The same try scorer then provided the opportunity for Druce backing up, to go in under the posts, which he then converted. The Foresters now started with utilising the replacement bench, Jack Kitching improving with every match being one of the players brought on and special mention at this stage of the game for Ben Parkinson, a winger rapidly developing who contributed in all aspects throughout the match, attack and defence.
The Foresters front row of Jimmy Meehan, Jake Parkinson and George Altham provided the usual front row expertise that is now expected every week and Jim Mason and Simon Willett were strength personified as a second row unit. The back row of Sam Smith, Aaaron Myers and Tom Burridge, all hungry for work and difficult for the opposition to control. Another fluent, well worked move gave Nathan Myers a welcome back try, converted by Druce. What a heart-warming sight it was to have the Myers brothers back in the Green shirts and they both performed to the standard we have come to expect from them. Let us hope that they continue to play with such enthusiasm. Nathan next came up with a pushover try, followed by yet another score for Druce after skilful handling by Harry Bullough. Druce converted, to make the half time at 45-0.
There was now a resurgence for the Tynedale side now bolstered by the loan of the Foresters props Meehan and Altham, and they crossed for for two unconverted welcome tries. Next, a break from visiting fly-half Evans resulted in a third opposition try, this one converted. However, in the meantime Tom Burridge had gone over for a push-over try, converted, making the score at this stage 52-17 to the Greens. The home side had admittedly been a little bit slack for ten minutes or so, missing tackles and being generally lackadaisical. Regrouping and following a well worked passing phase, Tom Baines went over for the try, which was again converted. The backs had of course been instrumental in most of the attacking moves, Jimmy Bullough at scrum half feeding his line diligently and Robbie Davidson showing his usual lighting bursts. The star in the backs though must go to Chris Howick who once again proved that a good rugby player can play in any position. He is a man for all seasons, for the club, showing strong bursts,good handling, fierce tackling and enjoying the freedom the position of centre allows him.
Replacements, already mentioned were Baines, Nathan Myers and Jack Kitching. The other players used were Rhys Davies and Max Bell, both showing how lucky the Foresters are to have such combative, skilful players at their disposal. An easy win undoubtedly but in the first half of this season the Foresters have often had to fight tooth and nail to retain their record, so possibly this game was a welcome relief. Credit to Tynedale for showing such spirit and tenacity. We look forward to the challenges the second half of the season will provide but having only lost one match, so far, the signs are good. Once more credit to the Foresters coaches, Andy Hodgson and Philip Peel, who instil into the Foresters the desire to play rugby the way they used to play themselves.