Last week’s report indicated this would be a hard match to win. Against a very good home side the Foresters would have to return to the cohesive patterns and disciplines shown in the first half of the season. This then became even more daunting when the Greens first team decided to have five forwards on their replacement bench, leaving the Foresters pack somewhat less strong than it normally would have been. Still plenty strong enough though. With these questions to be asked you would have anticipated a slight air of uncertainty surrounding the visitors. The Harrogate 1st team match had been postponed.
What we didn`t anticipate was that this would not be a league match after all but due to the fact the referee broke down on his way to the match and a replacement couldn`t be found in time, it was decided to play a friendly and delay the kick off, allowing thirty minutes each way. Most unsatisfactory but no one to blame, just one of those things and basically Harrogate adapted to the change slightly better than the Foresters.
Nothing gives the Harrogate club greater pleasure than putting one over on their neighbours from Grassington, whichever team they are playing and so it proved today. They were just keener, quicker to the break down and faced opponents who seemed to wish they were anywhere at all except playing in a friendly at Claro Road.
The Wharfedale backs always have a more stable look about them when Jimmy Bullough is at scrum half and his brother Harry at fly half , today however there was little in that area to get over excited about and the same applies to the backs in general. The only player, in this department, to come out with some credit would be Will Davidson, who in particular was very good in defence. The forwards tried manfully and more than held their own against the Harrogate pack. The one worth a special mention being George Altham for a good all round game.
Early in the game, Tom Whyte scored a try , once again from a push over position and in this first half the defences of both sides proved resilient to all thrown at them. The visitors increased their lead with a penalty from James Druce but shortly after Harrogate who proved adapt at stealing the ball at the base of the scrum put together a good move resulting in a try, not converted but making the half time score 8-5 to the Greens. Early in the first half Alastair Allen had to retire injured, replaced by Tom Burridge, who himself shortly had to retire again though an injury . Tom Baines replaced him. A player from Harrogate was quite badly injured, an ambulance had to be called and there was a further delay whilst this was attended to.
Then developed an evenly matched contest, with a result for either side never appearing certain. Finally Harrogate , after another good move with several Greens easily brushed aside scored another unconverted try making the score 10-8 to the home team. There was a period following where the visitors tackling and decision making was terrible and it seemed to be just a question of time before Harrogate would capitalise on Wharfedales mistakes and lack of concentration. Then a most unusual score for the Greens. The ball broke loose from the middle of the park, chased and pounced on by Altham for five points, converted by Druce and suddenly the Foresters were in front 15-10 with minutes to go. Probably justifiably however Harrogate after more atrocious tackling from the visitors and being sharper to the ball went in for a well taken try in the corner. An excellent conversion kick gave them a final score and victory of 17-15.
For the visitors very few positives, except the spectators were at least provided with a game to watch. Somehow there was no drive or enthusiasm, probably due to all the events that had taken place before and during the match and probably a game best forgotten. Their tackling was very ,very poor and surely can be improved upon, if not expect further upsets. Praise indeed to the two referees, one from each club taking over for an half each. They both did very well, deserving a great deal of credit. For the Foresters it was Rhys Davies, who in the second row, back row, prop or refereeing is proving an out and out multi-tasker . After his officials duties, he came on to play as lock in the second half. No excuses but a difficult game to report on and it must be emphasised the Harrogate Georgians are a good side but surely in the league match to follow here, we hope to see the real Foresters.
Foresters:- James Druce, Robbie Davidson, Simon Crabtree, Will Davidson, Andrew Foulds, Harry Bullough, Jimmy Bullough (c), George Altham, Jake Parkinson, Tom Walker, Rhys Davies, Simon Borrill, Alastair Allen, Jack Kitching, Tom Whyte. Replacements :- James Huck, Jim Mason, Tom Baines, Tom Burridge, Max Bell.