Fred Bullough writes:
A top of the league clash with leaders Otley taking on the Foresters, watched by an appreciative crowd, of which approximately 80% were from Wharfedale. This was a narrow hard fought victory for the Greens but there were several important factors to take into account, making the win more meritorious. The visitors, playing against a good side, had to contend with many last minute changes, backs playing out of position, and finished the match with three colts in the backs and their scrum half on the wing. All in all showing great character and resolution.
The victory was in the main down to the outstanding performance of the pack. They were magnificent and compensated for their backs, whose good spells were followed by indifferent ones, mainly due to instances of poor tackling, missed passes and doubtful decision making. With so many out of position, it was understandable and allowances have to be made. The tackling has to be examined and undoubtedly will be. Taking these factors into account an extremely good performance to come away with the points.
Returning to the greens pack: the front row of George Altham, Jake Parkinson and Matt Freeman, a colossus, were once again beyond reproach. Locks Jim Mason and Tom Baines, as usual solid, hard working, gave their all. The back row of Jack Kitching, Sam Smith and Tom Whyte, captain on the day, contributed to making the eight a formidable unit. The latter three will be even better when acquiring one or two tricks of the trade, in other words street-wise. This comment, I hasten to add came from the aficionados present.
The game itself. After ten minutes, Greens forward pressure resulted in a push over try by Whyte, converted by James Druce, once again at full back, who kicked well throughout the game. This was immediately followed by a lovely break from speed merchant Robbie Davidson, feeding colt Marcus Farnworth who went over for a richly deserved try, again converted by Druce and the Greens were 14-0 to the good. Some poor tackling allowed Otley to fire back with a converted try but that was quickly nullified when Harry Bullough, today at fly-half and acting throughout as the key link man, fed Tom Burridge a lovely long pass and over he went. Burridge, another Green proving his versatility, was today in the centre and had a most efficient game, quick, strong and extremely efficient, possibly the pick of the Foresters backs. Ben Parkinson, the other centre on the day, gave his usual 100%. The forwards, continuing with their power play, created the opportunity for Sam Smith to go in for a well constructed try, making the half time score 24-7 to the visitors
Then , as happens, the Greens took their foot off the pedal for a while, allowing the home side, now full of fire and brimstone the chance to strike back and so they did, with a well worked try and conversion. Richly deserved and illustrating their fighting spirit. Once again the Foresters reciprocated, after very good work from Rhys Davies which created the chance for James Otulakowski, another of the exciting Wharfedale colts, to show his alertness and dash over the line, this converted by Druce and a comfortable lead of 31-14. Otley would not lie down and full of character, after good play on their part, scored another converted try and we were now looking at 31-21. As usual, the Foresters replacements all played an important part, being introduced at various times and consisting of Otulakowski, Davies, James Meehan, Nathan Myers and Ben Booth. They all played admirably with Otulakowski, replacing Max Bell who started at scrum half, demonstrating speed of pass and thought.
Extra credit to be given to the performance in the line out. They were faultless at all times, assisted by accurate throwing form Parkinson J. The last fifteen minutes were backs against the wall time and after a flurry of yellow cards we were treated to the unsatisfactory spectacle of uncontested scrums, not to Wharfedale’s advantage and the home side went over for another try, not converted, making what turned out to be the final score of 31-26 to the Foresters. This was certainly hard fought ,yet on reflection given the necessary changes which had to be made , the redoubtable Colts introduced and players out of normal position this was a richly deserved win. Certainly areas of play can be worked on and improved but for now let`s just take the points. The Foresters represented Wharfedale admirably and Otley fully contributed to a game well worth watching. The Wharfedale Colts give great encouragement for the Club’s future.