On a good day for rugby and in front of quite a decent crowd , the Foresters proved themselves once again. It`s fair to say that this game was won predominately by the Greens in the forwards because despite the bulkier opposition. The home showed that fitness, technique and know-how as well as good coaching is invariably the winner and so it proved.
The front row of Matt Close, Jake Parkinson and Tom Jackson were on absolute top form. Close gave his opposite number a torrid time. The starting second row of Rhys Davies and Simon Borrill dominant both in loose play and in particular in the line out. Back row members Sam Smith, Oliver Snowden and Jack Kitching were confident and composed in their approach. As a unit they all performed very well and comfortably resisted the oppositions heavier eight.
The opening phase of the game was very evenly matched with mistakes by both sides and as one of the experienced Wharfedale coaches pointed out the Greens “ tried to play too much too soon“. Probably so, but it did keep us all on the edge of our seats until one of the Harrogate’s second row was yellow carded , giving fly half Andy Rhodes the opportunity to start proceedings off with a penalty. In the main he kicked well all eighty minutes with the rare blemish thrown in. Will Lawn at scrum half played a steady careful game to complement his half back partner.
The Foresters then endured a fifteen minute spell where the mistakes made would result in this report being extended dramatically. In this period Harrogate scored a good un-converted try. To be fair to the opposition they did look threatening in their back play, although often the ball went side to side rather than forwards. 5-3 to the visitors and something required to break the predictable flow of the game. Who stepped up but The Dales answer to Usain Bolt, Jake Parkinson, when after a mistake in the oppositions attack, a loose ball came free and the mercurial Parkinson pounced, scampered ferociously for 30 yards to the opposition line and scored under the posts. Rhodes converted and 10-5 to the Greens. In every aspect of his game Parkinson gives 110% and was worth his weight in beer.
The second half and Wharfedale’s backs were coming more into the game. A fairly experienced but young group with Ben Parkinson steady at full back, Ralph Wellock and Scott Rogers on the wings, were thrustful whenever given the opportunity and centres Mark Simpson and Joe Slater provided the required link effectively for most of the game. Emphasis is always placed on the quality of the replacement bench and today was no exception with Jake Starkey, Tom Walker, Jim Mason, Joe Metcalfe and Oliver Whyte filling this invaluable role. When introduced all played well. It was good to see Mason returning to full fitness and young Metcalfe showing promise of better things yet to come. The contribution the Foresters replacements make game after game is incalculable.
The home side was just starting to show better control and ambition in their attacks and after some good open fast play, the backs moved the ball out to Rogers who went over in the corner. Rhodes with a terrific conversion made the score 17-5. This was increased when after a high tackle by one of the Harrogate players, Rhodes again stepped up for the penalty and 20-5. The mistakes from the home team had by and large been eradicated but unfortunately another crept in. Harrogate broke clear and scored a good un-converted try, but the lead was now reduced to ten points at 20-10. Could a fight back be on the cards? Uncontested scrums were now brought in as the visitors had no replacement prop but if anything the Foresters seemed to benefit more than the opposition from this and were maintaining a tighter grip on the game as it progressed.
The Foresters were really in the ascendancy and in the latter stages of the match Harrogate were outgunned. Winger Wellock went in following good control through several phases. Rhodes again converted. As the game was coming to a close Wellock went over again, completing a very good game for him and the supporting players involved which resulted in a richly deserved final score of 32-10. A mixed performance, definitely. Vintage Foresters, no. Developing Foresters, yes. Entertainment value, very good. Will this team improve, certainly. The coaches are doing their usual good job and that is why the team maintains such good enthusiastic supporters. The Foresters are always worth watching.
Team: – Matt Close, Jake Parkinson, Tom Jackson, Rhys Davies (c) , Simon Borrill, Sam Smith, Oliver Snowden, Jack Kitching, Will Lawn, Andy Rhodes, Scott Rogers, Mark Simpson, Joe Slater, Ralph Wellock, Ben Parkinson.
Replacements: – Jake Starkey, Tom Walker, Jim Mason, Joe Metcalfe, Oliver Whyte.