Wharfedale Foresters continued their fine start to the Yorkshire Merit League season with a convincing win against a spirited York side at a wet and windy Avenue last Saturday.
Following on from their demolition of Doncaster Phoenix the week before the Forester Faithful were treated to another game of fast, free flowing back play, determined defence and a pack of forwards that hunt together, enjoy open off-loading rugby but never shirk the physical contest at scrum and breakdown.
Receiving the ball uphill and into the wind Elliot Stockdale made good ground immediately, breaking tackles, beating defenders and putting York under early pressure. The big Foresters 2nd row had an excellent game, gaining yards with every carry. However, it wasn’t long before Dale’s pacey wingers; the double act known as Gill & Prell got into the action. An excellent lineout catch and drive put the men in green on the front foot, Prell made a dashing break and found his wingman, Gill over in the corner. 5-0 to the Foresters.
Wharfedale continued with pleasing phases of play but often the final pass wasn’t accurate enough and York worked their way back into the match with a long range penalty. 5-3 to the Foresters.
This was brief relief and the Foresters kept up the pressure, mixing hard yards up front with expansive play across the three quarters and a break from Ben Parkinson led to Josh Prell scoring and an excellent conversion wide out from Rory McNabb. 12-3 to Wharfedale. When this Forester team get on a roll they can overpower sides and it wasn’t long before the forwards put pressure on the bigger York scrum and Eddie Gill sliced through the York defence to give Ralph Wellock the chance to show his pace and outstrip the cover defence. 17-3 to the Foresters at half time.
Despite being on top for much of the first half the Foresters lost their way somewhat in the early plays of the second half. York’s replacements made an immediate impact and the Foresters kept trying to run out of defence although they had the wind in their favour and could have pinned the York side back.
Eventually the Foresters’ greater possession and determination worked the ball downfield and Sam Mason scored. MacNabb converted. 24-3 to the Dalesmen. The Foresters then had a groundhog moment with Eddie Gill put into space twice down the left and showing his wheels to outpace winger and full-back to touch down wide. 34-3 to the Foresters and yet another hat-trick for Gill.
The final score of the game had an excellent Forester lineout create space for Gill and Prell to break and swap passes down the left to give Josh his second try. Final score 39-3 to the Foresters.
This was another excellent performance from the Foresters. The backs again showed how good they are when given quick ball by the forwards. Yes the exuberance of youth sometimes has the Foresters Faithful head in hands as they try to run it out from our twentytwo and the team do have periods when their helter-skelter approach means there is loss of shape and continuity but they have the character to dig themselves out of tough situations and turn defence into attack in a flash. They are a delight to watch and support.
Wharfedale: – 1. George Altham, 2. Tom Jackson, 3. James Huck, 4. Sam Smith, 5. Elliot Stockton, 6. Adam Stubbs, 7. Jake Starkey, 8. Tom Whyte (c), 9. Will Lawn, 10. Rory MacNab – 2C, 11. Eddie Gill – 3T, 12. Ralph Wellock – 1T, 13. Ben Parkinson, 14. Josh Prell – 2T, 15. Kristian Sharples.
Replacements: – 16. Jack Wells, 18. Sam Mason – 1T, 19. Adam Bromley, 20. George Marshall.