This was a game with numerous mistakes made by both sides throughout but who could wonder when considering the elements. It was not only raining and subject to periods of strong wind but the pitch itself must have been passed fit to play on by the closest of margins. So credit to both sides who provided eighty minutes of ding dong rugby, which we have come to expect whenever Tynedale meet Wharfedale. The visitors are the leaders in the Pilot League, consequently the Foresters knew in advance this would be a tough encounter, so it proved.
Today the Foresters were under the auspices of Robbie Burnett who has given invaluable service to this side for many seasons and his ever willing input is impressive. The Greens turned out another strong squad and started the first half against the elements, which supporters considered would give the opposition some benefit but perhaps didn`t conclusively work out that way. During the first part of the game Wharfedale came under some pressure with their defence tested to the full but they withstood this manfully and once again the pack was solid and dependable and proved yet again what a really good unit they are. The forwards this week were slightly changed with Matt Close, Jake Parkinson and Tom Jackson the front three, an experienced second row of Alistair Allen and Jim Mason had a strong industrious game and Sam Smith, the returning Tom Whyte and Chris Swainson giving their all in attack and defence, the back three. Yet again this pack was solid, reliable and difficult to play against, with a relentless work rate . They created the platform for any damage the backs were able to create, once they received the ball. Whyte`s contribution in line outs was impressive The first part of the match was hard to evaluate as neither side could create any dominance, primarily due to the conditions.
Then there was one of those moments that determines the tone in games such as this when Josh Prell, who had a splendid game all through, broke clear after good work by the backs, beat several opposition defenders en-route, passed to Ben Parkinson who had followed up well to go over for an excellent try. The conversion was narrowly missed from wide out but a welcome lead of 5-0. Shortly after another strong break from the Foresters backs, who willingly tried to run the ball at every opportunity, Simon Crabtree added his name to the try scoring list. Andy Rhodes conversion was successful. 12-0.
The remainder of the first half was spent mainly combatting the elements and the Greens would have been happy to turn around with this lead but with minutes to go were awarded a penalty try. This had been created by some excellent grafting work by the forwards and Rhodes banged over the conversion. 19-0.
Now all credit to Tynedale, who came back at the Greens with a try and a conversion, making the half time score 19-7.
Wharfedale were now playing in what was considered to be the favourable direction but the visitors had a terrific amount of fight still in them and were able to combat the Foresters in all departments. The Wharfedale backs had Jimmy Bullough at scrum half, vigorous and vociferous, with Andy Rhodes, the fly half instrumental in every way attempting to give the three -quarters space to attack. Wings Prell and Oliver Whyte did all that could be asked of them, trying to sprint through “glue” is difficult but Prell in particular ran very powerfully. The same applied to centres Mark Simpson and Simon Crabtree, who along with full back Ben Parkinson, were trying to create something from difficult positions, in atrocious conditions. Once they could gain any clear space they looked dangerous and from a clean line out , clinical moves by the backs allowed Crabtree to further enhance his impressive try scoring record, by going in under the posts. Rhodes converted. 26-7.
Photo by Ali Parkinson
Tynedale would not lie down and yet again fired back at the Foresters with a try and conversion. 27-14.No praise was too high for the Tynedale fighting spirit . They are a proud group of players and credit to them.
Once again play switched to the opposite end and following another good line out a driven maul gave Jake Parkinson the opportunity to claim yet another try to his impressive collection. 31-14 and the home side was surely ready to claim an emphatic victory . Not yet though, as once more back came the visitors, who crossed for a converted try and a final result of 31-21.
As is customary, the Foresters had utilised their excellent replacements of George Altham, Rhys Davies, Sam Mason and Rory McNabb. The team are indeed fortunate that when these replacements come on the flow in play is hardly affected , this applies week after week.
The only thing left to say is massive credit is due to all players for trying to play open rugby and a good win for the Foresters against stern opposition in very testing conditions which they adapted to extremely well, as did their fellow colleagues on the first team pitch. Praise to the coaches for the obvious work they have put in and once again to the part played by Robbie Burnett. Thanks to the people who managed to provide a pitch suitable to play on.
Team: – Matt Close, Jake Parkinson, Tom Jackson, Jim Mason, Alastair Allen, Sam Smith, Tom Whyte (c), Chris Swainson, Jimmy Bullough, Andy Rhodes, Josh Prell, Mark Simpson, Simon Crabtree, Oliver Whyte, Ben Parkinson.
Replacements:- George Altham, Rhys Davies, Sam Mason, Rory McNab.