In the Wharfedale home game, the Match Programme Editor devoted a very astute column to the problems faced by the powers that be in arranging a truly competitive fixture list for the Foresters throughout the whole of the season. He must have known what was about to happen at the lovely facilities provided by the Ilkley rugby club.
You could say that the writing was on the wall before the kick off. We were treated to a very efficient lady referee, operating at A+1 level and when it became known that she was Irish and the visitors played in green, what could you expect? The odds were against the home side from the first whistle.
Ilkley, throughout the match, gave 100% but the visitors simply had too much fire power for them to affect the result. On a beautiful afternoon the Foresters showed what delightful running rugby they can provide on their day and the forwards, not to be out done, provided strength, determination and power to cause the home team a mountain of problems.
In the first minutes of the match, it became apparent that the Wharfedale forwards would dominate their opponents and of course that then meant ample opportunities for the backs to show off their skills. The first try was scored by Simon Borrill after a powerful drive by the Greens pack. This was not converted, actually hitting the post and James Druce after his kicking heroics of last week was slightly off tune during the course of the game, or the score line would have been heavier in favour of the visitors. After aggressive running by Jake Parkinson, Lloyd Davies ,in support went over for the next try, which was converted by Druce.
There followed a period of fifteen minutes were the Foresters did make some elementary mistakes and play was scrappy but then, from a scrum, the Greens pack pushed Ilkley back some twenty metres allowing Borrill another try to his collection. The Pack, continuing with this show of strength, rampaged again and Rhys Davies went in. The pack as a whole were a fearsome unit on the day. Front row of Chris Steel, rapidly approaching full fitness, Jake Parkinson and Matt Freeman with locks Rhys Davies and Borrill provided the back bone and the back row of Michael Snowden, Sam Smith and Tom Whyte giving terrific linkage to the Foresters backs. Whilst difficult to pick out one the forwards for special mention, Snowden had an all round game to be proud of, closely followed by Jake Parkinson.
Whilst all this was going on, the backs were not hiding. From two flourishing moves along the line, firstly Lloyd Davies went over, quickly followed by Will Davidson and the sides turned around with the visitors 32-0 in front. The three quarters of Wellock, Bullough, Davidson and Druce in conjunction with full back Davies were a handful, which Ilkley found difficult to get to grips with. It has to be said that Ilkley never once let their heads down and stuck to the task manfully. Credit to them.
The second period, during which half way through we were treated to uncontested scrums, followed in a very similar pattern and on the rare occasions Ilkey threatened the Foresters tackling was extremely efficient and determined. Harry Bullough burst through for a try, converted by Lloyd Davies, closely followed by one from Tom Whyte, again converted by Davies. Fittingly the final try was scored by debutant Ralph Wellock, who had a sound game and converted by Druce. During the second half substitutes Rob Burnett, Andrew Foulds and Ben Parkinson performed to the required level established and overall this was a thoroughly professional and competent performance by this young (exception Burnett) team. The Foresters have hit full stride again and as the programme report, mentioned at the start, said, they will be difficult to contain in the Merit Championship league.