Foresters met the opposition they had encountered just two weeks ago, when the score was 50-10 to the Greens. That was at the Avenue and thankfully Tynedale arrived then, to play, despite several of their recognised squad not being available. Massive credit is due to their club as despite all the problems they have encountered this season, with floods etc., they make every effort to fulfil their fixtures. Their team this week was stronger but so were the Foresters!
Tynedale were the league leaders, having maintained that position for most of the existence of this new league and Wharfedale knew they would have to be at their best to return with anything. Once again the Greens came away with the spoils although it has to be stressed that this was not vintage Foresters but a victory achieved through hard work and dogged determination. There were far too many mistakes, by both sides, to call this a classic match but sure enough the win put the Foresters back to the top of the Northern Pilot League, with still some stiff matches to come. The match took place on an all-weather surface which according to some of the Wharfedale lads took a little getting used to, but the Foresters class eventually came through. The visitors proving that they are not just players who relish throwing the ball around, but can come up to the mark when it`s a dogfight.
The Foresters set off like a steam train and in the first fourteen minutes were ahead by 21 points to nil. Firstly a try scored by Dan Solomi, following a terrific drive by the pack, steam rolling their way some 22 metres, was converted by James Druce. This was shortly followed by a brilliant interception giving Will Davidson the opportunity to show his pace and dynamism to go in under the posts. Druce again converted. This was not the end to this avalanche of points as winger Ralph Wellock demonstrated his try scoring abilities finishing off a good passing move, involving forwards and backs, to cross the line with aplomb and converted once more by the reliable Druce. 21-0. The Wharfedale supporters were finding it hard to believe that so much could be achieved in such a short space of time. During this spell the home side appeared shell shocked.
The deluge then ceased, as Tynedale realising the danger of allowing Wharfedale too much space tightened up their approach and in the main attempted to keep the ball amongst their pack and with the exception of an occasional break out tried to strangle the visitor’s fluency. This had the desired effect and after strong rugged work by the Tynedale pack they forced the Greens to infringe in a critical area of the pitch and were awarded a penalty try, which they converted making the score 7-21. There followed a rather scrappy period of play where the Foresters were unable to play with the freedom they enjoy, sometimes created by the oppositions methods and quite often by carrying out sloppy procedures and mistakes of their own. There was none of the Greens polished accomplishments at this stage, rather swathes of their performance definitely being lack lustre. Once again Tynedale took advantage with a good and determined push over try which was converted and moved the score on at half time to 14-21. We hoped the traditional Foresters fitness would shine through. The Tynedale supporters were starting to get excited, rightly so, as their team was indeed providing stern competition.
We now had a flurry of changes, utilising the excellent replacements who at various times in this second half contributed heartily from the bench. Jimmy Bullough made his usual sharp and busy contribution at scrum half, with good handling, was replaced by Max Bell, who has shown improvement as the season has progressed. Jake Parkinson, hooker, gave way to Ian Larkin who once again gave a sterling performance and Josh Burridge, having received a nasty eye injury, came off for a period and Joe Metcalf , one of Wharfedale’s promising young stars came on and played well.
After the period of fractured play the Greens now added some clout to their rugby and a good and confident passage of play involving forwards and backs. Joe Altham burst through strongly to crash over for a try under the posts. Druce converted and this was soon followed with a try from the very elusive Josh Prell, who along with Davidson, provided pace and finely tuned instincts in attacking the oppositions line. The score stood at 14-33. Two other replacements were introduced , George Altham and Otto Mallileu Black and both, as you would expect gave 100% and slotted in well, although it would be greatly appreciated if Otto remembered his shorts before taking off his track suit bottoms!!
Whilst all around them had been a little chaotic, the front row of Joe Altham, Jake Parkinson and Jimmy Meehan maintained their composure against larger opposition and continue to perform admirably for the side. Alistair Allen is continuing to find his best form as each week and game goes by. Along with Burridge, these two made sure there were no glitches in the line outs. The throwing in, catching and disturbing the oppositions line outs were very good. Burridge coming back on was getting better and better as the game went on. Indeed a welcome sight. In the forwards, both Parkinson and Larkin excelled and special mention must be made of the back row of Matt Hall, Solomi and Burridge. Hall is proving one of the most improved players the Foresters possess. Bullough came back on to replace centre Mark Simpson who had a quite assured and confident game.
The final score went to Andy Rhodes, who after an in and out day for him, showed his worth with a well taken try which was superbly converted by the ever dependable Druce. A final score and richly deserved one of 14-40 to the Foresters and their burgeoning reputation cemented.
Another priceless member of the outfit is our poster girl, physiotherapist Verity, who does a sterling job for the Foresters. Without the contributions of all the back-up people mentioned in this report, the Foresters would not be as successful as they are.
Worth comment here is the input given by the back room staff at Wharfedale. The squad benefits from the time spent by all the clubs coaches who put considerable efforts into honing the skills of this mainly young group and they very rarely turn up for a fixture without being fully prepared and do have a remarkable team spirit which has been nurtured by the people in the background. They are encouraged to always remember that the only way to progress to the first team is by consistently strong performances for the Foresters. A superb structure which has worked well over many years. Another point worth a mention is that so many of the club coaches, Hedley Verity, Andy Hodgson, David Whitfield, Philip Peel and John Metcalfe are all “in-house”. Let us also remember the dedication to the Foresters of the man in the background, Robbie Burnett. The players also appreciate the considerable support received, in particular at home fixtures, which eclipses the support received by most of the opposition sides they encounter.
Team : –
James Druce, Ralph Wellock, Mark Simpson, Will Davidson, Josh Prell, Andy Rhodes, Jimmy Bullough, Joe Altham, Jake Parkinson, Jimmy Meehan, Alex Powell, Alistair Allen, Matt Hall, Dan Solomi, Josh Burridge.
Replacements : –
George Altham, Ian larkin, Joe Metcalfe, Max Bell, Otto Mallileu Black.