Harrogate’s splendid new ground welcomed the Foresters for their first league game of the season. So far in 2015 the Greens have played and won three , amassing 141 points against 12. Could this be maintained we asked.
The answer is Yes and No. A deserved win certainly but the manner of achievement leaves questions to be asked and answered. Coach Hedley Verity will not have been happy with certain aspects displayed. He is successfully building a strong squad and will undoubtedly be pointing out one or two things that require improvement, in particular concentration. In other words the way he used to play. These lads will learn.
The Greens as so often happens early in the season had a much changed side both in terms of personnel and position. There was a certain amount of apprehension about how things would unfold. Rugby is a special kind of sport where certain positions require years of playing and the honing of skills in order to best benefit that particular place in a team. All in all it worked out well for the Greens. James Druce played ,unusually for him, at fly half and did a more than adequate job ably assisted by scrum half Harry Skelton who is progressing encouragingly well. Josh Prell, at full back, had bright moments and Joe Gill and Ben Parkinson on the wings carried out attacking and defensive duties to a good standard.
Harrogate had several large units in their pack and the visitors forwards did well to hold and contain them as they did. Joe Altham, Jordon Poole and Ricky Cano were solid up front and were very well supported by the second row duo of Alex Powell and Richard Beck. The latter stood out and whilst the Wharfedale line out was extremely good throughout, Beck in particular was outstanding. The back row of Jack Kitching, Nathan Myers and Tom Whyte chased and tackled the opposition like terriers and also had good distribution skills when required. Whyte is developing into an inspirational leader.
The first half showed Foresters at their best. Fast, fit, clinical and thoroughly on top of their game. Centre Max Wright had a superb game. The highlight being a try, where he commenced some sixty yards out, steam rolling his way forward via two classical hand offs and over in the corner at pace. An outstanding piece of rugby which was well converted by Druce and the Greens were 7-0 to the good. The Foresters other centre Ollie Fewtrell also gave his all and this pair worked very well together. Not finished yet, keeping up the attack and a good break by Joe Altham gained momentum for the Greens and Prell was on hand to complete the job, again in the corner. The try was not converted but rhe half time lead of 12-0 was well deserved. They were not comfortably in front but everything was looking very rosy.
Early in the second half Gill was yellow carded for a technical infringement, but the Greens kept their composure. However they then seemed to loose concentration. Sloppy play crept in and from seemingly being down on their knees Harrogate were revitalised.
Players have to learn quickly that it is permissible to try fancy flick blind passes when you are forty points in front but not when the game is still in the balance and in other phases some players did not carry out basic safe procedures when it was necessary. Such play is totally out of character for a Foresters side and these points have to be eradicated. This is an eighty minute game. Training should be interesting this week!!
Harrogate took advantage, went over for a gift of a try, which was not converted. Replacements Jake Parkinson and George Altham came on, once again making impressive contributions. A golden opportunity was missed by the Greens when the ball was spilled, literally on the line, but a good break by Kano put the Foresters on attack and skipper Whyte finished it off. Druce converted resulting in a score of 19-5 to the Greens. Harrogate quickly replied with a try in the corner which was not converted making it 19-10. To theoretically seal victory, Druce collected a loose ball, scampering at pace some thirty yards and going in under the posts. He converted his own try.
In the very last minute, however, the home side scored a converted try but by that time it was all too late and the Foresters came away with a deserved win. Harrogate are a quite decent side but tougher games are awaiting. There will undoubtedly be an inquest this week, yet the squad is showing great potential and maintain that great will to win spirit. They are not yet quite gelling as a team but they are showing very strong signs that this aspect is just around the corner and there could be thrilling times ahead.
Team:-Josh Prell, Joe Gill, Max Wright, Ollie Fewtrell, Ben Parkinson, James Druce, Harry Skelton, Joe Altham, Jordon Poole, Ricky Cano, Alex Powell, Richard Beck, Jack Kitching, Nathan Myers, Tom Whyte (c).
Replacements:- George Altham, Jake Parkinson, Rob Burnett.