Saturday 1 Sept 2018.
The faithful few who followed the Foresters across the county to the East Riding were rewarded with a glorious afternoon and a hard fought away victory in the opening league game.
This is a very young Foresters side, giving away years in experience and stones in weight to a bigger Pocklington team but the Dale outfit have pace, passion and a togetherness that makes up for anything they lack.
The opening exchanges were all Foresters; the catch and drive at the lineout gaining good ground on several occasions and the first score came after only three minutes with Henry Macnab taking an intelligent quick tap penalty and passing to Madison Hunting who scored close to the posts with Macnab converting, 7-0.
The hosts replied with a penalty after a brief foray into the Dale half but the Foresters continued to dominate possession and territory with the backs constantly posing a threat. Good hands and thrilling breaks by Harry Bullough, Kristian Sharples and Louis Verity could all have led to tries but the final pass wasn’t going to hand and a wily Pocklington side slowed the ball effectively at the breakdown.
Persistence and pace eventually brought its reward. A fantastic break from Madison Hunting, who looked for support when he probably should have pinned his ears back, resulted in a penalty for slowing the ruck and Rory Macnab converted. 10-3 to the Dale team.
Another enterprising break from Madison Hunting, enabled by quick ruck ball and slick handling, saw Henry Macnab in support to score close to the posts with his brother converting yet again. 17-3 to the Foresters.
Thirty minutes in, the youthful, exuberant play of the Greens had exposed a lack of pace and fitness in the home side and they cleverly changed tactics. Playing narrowly in possession and utilising the size of their forwards and centres Pocklington turned the game into gnarly dog fight. This approach led to another three pointer for the home side. 17-6
Despite their relative lack of size the Greens defended bravely with some thunderous tackles from our back row and Louis Verity leading the way in the backs. The look of surprise on Pock’s sizeable no 12 when he was unceremoniously dumped by our slim fly half brought a wry smile to those on the side lines.
The last play of the first half saw an uncontested scrum 5 metres from the Green’s goal line, due to Pock not having enough front rowers to cover for an injured prop, from which the home side went down the narrow side to power over in the corner for a well converted try. 17-13.
The second half was a gritty arm-wrestle with Pocklington continuing to keep the ball close to the forwards and slow the breakdown at every opportunity. This, plus the uncontested scrums, gave the home side a decent slug of possession and the game entered a dour, attritional phase that suited Pock well.
Despite intense provocation and a non-existent offside-line the Foresters never took a backward step, defending bravely at ruck and maul. Eventually the home side ran out of options and gas and a fantastic break down the wing by hooker Tom Jackson, showing a fine turn of speed, led to a period of pressure on Pock’s line with the Foresters showing they could drive effectively close to the breakdown with Joe Fawcett going over from close range for a try converted by Rory Macnab. 24-13.
This was the final score of the match. Pock had a chance wide in the corner in the last few seconds but excellent cover defence by a host of green shirts drove their winger into touch in-goal.
This first league match was a test of character that the Foresters came through well. Both lineout and scrum worked against a bigger pack and the backs were lively and dangerous from any position on the pitch. A more clinical final pass and they could easily have scored at least three more tries. This, together with more effective game management in the second half, are areas to be improved but there is a lot to be very pleased with.
This is a fit young team with skill, pace and a huge heart; “We few, we happy few” that travelled back to the Dale can look forward with anticipation to the rest of season.
1. George Martin, 2. Tom Jackson, 3. Jack Hirst, 4. Matt Colgrave, 5. Joe Myers, 6. Madison Hunting, 7. Joe Fawcett, 8. Tom Whyte (c), 9. Henry Macnab, 10. Louis Verity, 11. Rory Macnab, 12. Max Bell, 13. Harry Bullough, 14. Joe Moorhouse, 15. Kristian Sharples.
16. George Altham, 19. Tom Oakes.