This is not an easy ground to gain a victory on and the Foresters have to be given a great deal of praise for their attitude, team spirit and of course ability, in coming away with a truly solid performance enabling them to maintain their position at the top of the Northern Pilot League. There is something heart-warming regarding the approach this team has towards competition and, as results over many years show, it is no flash in the pan because their consistency is second to none. Of course one of the very important features in this success has been the quality of coaches this team has had, enabling them to maintain the level of performance few others at this grade can achieve. Present coaches David Whitfield, John Metcalfe and Robbie Burnett are now entrusted with that task and are carrying out a splendid job. Another valuable point is the support given by a great number of the Wharfedale fans, especially at home matches and the players rise to provide the quality of entertaining rugby the Greens fans relish.
The value of this team can be illustrated only last Saturday with the first team game against Sale. Two of the past few years Foresters stalwarts Tom Whyte and Matt Hall having outstanding games for the firsts and described as possibly joint men of the match performances. These reputations could only possibly be achieved by the time spent “at the coal face“ with the Foresters and gives encouragement to all who play for the team.
Darlington, as customary, had a strong, physical, good side out including a couple of overseas players and played well throughout. Wharfedale were able to match them in the forwards with James Meehan, Jake Parkinson and Tom Jackson, a resolute front three, and once more an outstanding game from Parkinson. Locks Simon Borrill and skipper Rhys Davies were as dependable and forceful as ever with the back row of Jim Bowers, Tom Baines and Jack Kitching showing vitality and energy in their defence and attacking contributions.
The backs were on top form on the day with half backs Sam Stockdale and Oliver White ever alert and providing 100% to the teams overall showing. The three-quarter line of wingers, Ben Parkinson and Josh Prell, were threatening at all times and the latter proved a real handful to the opposition, assisted with industry and power by centres Tom Davidson and Marks Simpson. Completing the starting fifteen was full back Joe Slater who is developing into a solid full back and showing promise. All the backs played well and deserve praise for their performance.
The first half was a ding dong affair with a narrow advantage at the whistle for the Greens after another try for that enthusiastic scrapper Jake Parkinson and a penalty scored by Andy Rhodes against a solitary try scored by Darlington. Andy Rhodes and Eddie Keighley came on as replacements, yet again proving the value of having such strong replacements on the bench. The second half, whilst only narrowly, belonged to Wharfedale and whilst not providing the readers with a great deal of detail resulted in that entertaining winger Prell going in for a try and Rhodes kicking two more penalties. The Foresters maintained their mood and tone throughout the eighty minutes and deserve much praise, especially when you consider the team itself was relatively inexperienced playing with each other but managed very quickly and successfully to bond together. A great team performance. It must be remembered this was a good strong Darlington side who took some knocking over
A bonus to the old timers was another replacement, coach John Metcalfe, truly a blast from the past, coming on for the last fifteen minutes to add his experience to things and increase dramatically the average age of the team itself. Robbie Burnett made the decision to keep the bench warm!
Team: – James Meehan, Jake Parkinson, Tom Jackson, Simon Borrill, Rhys Davies (c), Jim Bowers, Tom Baines, Kack Kitching, Sam Stockdale, Oliver White, Ben Parkinson, Mark Simpson, Tom Davidson, Josh Prell, Joe Slater.
Replacements :- Andy Rhodes, Eddie Keighley, John Metcalfe , Robert Burnett.