Foresters 25 – 10 Harrogate Georgians

Foresters’ Defensive Wall Too Strong For ‘Gate.

With Harrogate arriving at the Avenue with a very large forward pack, Wharfedale supporters might have been nervous about how the early encounters, especially in the tight, might play out. The lighter Foresters’ pack rose manfully to the challenge and increasingly dominated all aspects of play, most notably in the scrums. The superiority in the scrum, with George Altham particularly enjoying his afternoon, sapped the strength from the Harrogate eight and it was the visitors who benefitted the most when uncontested scrums were initiated just before halftime due to a Harrogate front row injury. Unlike in the first team game, this did not result with them being forced to play with fourteen men.

The first quarter of the match was a close affair but the commitment and energy in the Foresters tackling and defensive duties were already limiting the effectiveness of the Harrogate play. Still, it was possibly against the run of play when Will Lawn pounced on a mistake at the back of a Harrogate scrum, to evade all cover and run in from 60 yards. Jordan Annett added the conversion.

Wharfedale increasingly started to gain the upper hand and could have scored more than the solitary Annett penalty. This was cancelled out when Rhys Davies was penalised (and shown a yellow card) shortly after the Harrogate lack of a front row replacement had led to the scrums being uncontested. It would seem a shortage of props is not just an issue for Wharfedale. So, the halftime whistle saw the lead only seven points, with the Foresters down a man and playing up the slope in the second half.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, the Foresters worked their way up the field. From a line-out the Harrogate defence was stretched and Sam Mason raced over to score wide out. Following the restart Wharfedale were possibly guilty of trying to play too much from deep inside their own half, conceding possession. This was compounded when for the only time in the game the home side slipped off a couple of tackles to allow the big Harrogate ball carriers to gain momentum. This eventually led to a well-worked try in the corner, which was impressively converted to make the score 15-10.

The final quarter of the game was all Wharfedale. When Harrogate did have the ball they continually failed to get over the gain line in the face of tenacious tackling. Jake Parkinson literally tackled above his weight and was also one of the most effective ball carriers. The back row of Hall, Whyte, and Snowdon were again outstanding, with Nathan Myers also prominent when Snowdon was forced off through injury.

The pressure told on Harrogate and they had two men sin-binned either side of Nick Atkinson’s try, which came following several phases of quick ball. The Greens’ backs also had their best period, with more direct lines of running. Some last ditch defence prevented any further Wharfedale tries but a last minute Annett penalty completed the scoring. This was a tremendous team performance against a strong Harrogate side, who were sitting second to Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Premiership league prior to the game.

Team: –

1. George Altham
2. Jake Parkinson
3. Mike Bradshaw
4. Sam Smith jnr
5. Rhys Davies – YC
6. Matt Hall
7. Oliver Snowdon
8. Tom Whyte (c)
9. Will Lawn – 1T
10. Oliver Whyte
11. Ben Parkinson
12. Jordan Annett – 2C,2P
13. Mark Simpson
14. Nathan Myers
15. Sam Mason – 1T

Replacements: –

16. Jake Starkey
17. Tom Jackson
18. Nick Atkinson – 1T
19. Simon Borrill
20. Chris Swainston
21. Sam Stockdale

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