An entertaining Northern Pilot League encounter at Crow Trees ended with the Foresters running out winners by 28 points to 22.
The game started at a cracking pace with the Dale backs of Ralph Wellock, Oli Cicognini and young livewire scrum half, Max Bell to the fore.
With the experienced Will Bell running the show, prompting and probing his charges with expert precision, it came as no surprise that, after just 15 minutes, the Foresters had run in three tries from Will Davidson, Tom Baines and Will Bell himself. The ever reliable boot of skipper James Druce gave an early score of 21 nil.
The Foresters were probably unlucky not to extend their lead but stout defending by the home side kept the Green Machine at bay. The returning Nick Taylor made some good incursions into the Blaydon ranks and, despite showing justifiable signs of rustiness, acquitted himself very well.
In the forwards the front row of Jimmy Meehan, Jake Parkinson and George Altham led the charge time after time and were well supported by Matt Hall and the ever improving Morgan Davies.
The lineout was impeccable with Baines and Alex Powell obtaining a plentiful supply of quality ball for the impressive backline to use.
However the Tynesiders gradually fought their way back in to proceedings and scored a deserved try from a rolling maul which was converted to give a score of 21-7 at the break.
With the Foresters in such ascendancy the half time substitutions of Max Labasse and Andy Rhodes looked to push the game out of Blaydons reach with an injection of fresh legs.
However, just as the first half had been all Wharfedale the second turned out to see Blaydon gaining the upper hand. They began to dominate the set piece and the backs were beginning to look more and more dangerous. It came as no surprise when they ran in two fine tries and with the score at 21-19 with a quarter of the game to play, it looked like Blaydon might complete a deserved comeback and take the spoils.
Both sides strove hard for the victory and Wharfedale finally managed to obtain some territory in the Blaydon 22. Good lineout ball, a couple of bullocking runs from the middle backs, was followed by a sight the Greens faithful have come to love. At the base of the ensuing ruck the Wharfedale number 7 picked up and darted over unopposed for the winning try. Let’s just say, another Solomi special !! Druce added the extras and Wharfedale were home and hosed at 28-19.
Blaydon pushed hard in the final minutes and they picked up a very well earned consolation losing bonus point with a final kick penalty.
It had been somewhat of a curate’s egg of a game for the Foresters; at times sublime and at others naïve at best. Having said that they will learn from this outing against a very good Blaydon outfit and that should be what this new Northern Pilot League is about; closely fought games between teams that want to pit their wits against other sides of the same standard.
Team: J Druce, R Wellock, W Davidson, N Taylor, O Cicognini, W Bell, M Bell.
G Altham, J Parkinson, J Meehan, M Davies, T Baines, A Powell, D Solomi, M Hall
Repl :- J Starkey, A Rhodes, M Labasse, R Burnett (unused)
Tries – Will Davidson, Tom Baines, Will Bell, Dan Solomi
Cons – James Druce 4