Wharfedale’s formidable Foresters entertained their rivals Harrogate in a double header derby that counted for both the Yorkshire Merit and Northern Pilot leagues. The Wharfedale side are in a battle at the top of each table, seeking to win both titles. Harrogate would be keen to spoil their chances in either competition.
Wharfedale have a strong Foresters side this year and Saturday was no exception with several players in contention for first team places.
Wharfedale received the kick off uphill into the wind and were soon into their stride with both wingers, Fawcett and Gill, seeing early ball and making yards on both flanks. Their forwards made an impression immediately, winning the first scrum against the head.
Dales’ first score came from a lineout on halfway and a kick through that was gathered by Eddie Gill for a try. 5-0 to Wharfedale.
The next few phases of play saw Harrogate gain parity in possession and prop Sam Booker display his carrying and handling skills and his indiscipline with a yellow card for pulling down an attacking maul. From the resulting penalty and lineout Harrogate moved the ball into the midfield and their no 8 supported with a burst for a converted try. 5-7 to Harrogate.
From the restart “Parki”, Wharfedale’s rumbustious hooker, made huge holes in the opposition defence, supported by Elliott Stockton who finessed a beautiful off load to Andrew Rhodes who crashed over for a try. 10-7 to the Foresters.
For the rest of the first half Wharfedale dominated territory and possession. Carries from Jack Wells, Chris Swainson (always dangerous in the loose with ball in hand) and a break from Andrew Rhodes created space for Rory MacNab to score and convert his own try. 17-7 to Wharfedale.
Wharfedale started the second half as they left off in the first with pressure and a well worked try combining forwards and backs for Joe Fawcett (flanker turned winger for the day) to show his pace and score. 22-7 to the Foresters.
The men in green continued to press from the restart and spent a great deal of time battering at the Harrogate line but brave, solid defence from Harrogate’s forwards prevented any score and the game moved into a period of stalemate and the Forester faithful became impatient for a moment of magic to break the deadlock.
Magic arrived in the form of Andrew “I taught Cipriani all he knows” Rhodes with a mercurial cross field kick that dropped perfectly into the hands of Eddie Gill for a try converted by Rory Macnab. 29-7 to Wharfedale.
Wharfedale were again on the scoresheet in short order with their dominant scrum winning ball against the head and the fly half kicking through for second row Jacob Taylor to pounce and power through tackles for a converted try. This last score from Wharfedale galvanised the visitors who played their best rugby in the last 10 minutes of the game and scored a converted try to make the final score 36-14 to Wharfedale
The Foresters remain in contention in both leagues. Man of the Match (as decided by Physio and Scribe) was Chris Swainson; a towering performance from the green No 8.
Team: – 1. J Wells, 2. J Parkinson, 3. S Booker, 4. E Stockton, 5. J Taylor – 1T, 6. J Kitching
7. T Whyte (c), 8. C Swainson, 9. H MacNab, 10. R MacNab, 11. E Gill, 12. A Rhodes, 13. B Parkinson , 14. J Fawcett, 15. S Mason.
Replacements: – 16. G Altham, 17. J Huck, 18. S Smith, 19. L Craven, 20. S Arkwright.
Tries: – J Taylor, R MacNab, E Gill (2), A Rhodes, J Fawcett.
Conversions: – R MacNab (3).