On a cold but dry afternoon the Foresters provided us with some cavalier, entertaining, nay even scintillating rugby, especially in the first half. The idea seemed to be that the ball was too hot to hold on to and move it as quickly as possible before it burnt your hands. Anyone who has watched the Foresters on a regular basis knows well enough that there is every chance you will experience a decent game of rugby but this was that little bit special and some of the tries scored superbly enjoyable.
Sheffield are not a bad side, so please don`t let the score line tell a different story. It was just that in several phases of this game the Greens were in a different class. Fielding a strong starting fifteen it became obvious early on that they were in good form, with a hunger to play fast all out attacking rugby and some of their moves were outlandish in their execution and result. Admittedly not all came off but the vast majority did.
Every team has a great deal of dependency on the performance of the pack and once again the Greens came up trumps and were possibly the key to the home sides victory. The front row of George Altham, Jake Parkinson and Tom Jackson provided the usual performance expected of them by not giving an inch. Parkinson, the human cannonball, was exhilarating in loose play. Altham was also impressive and gave a sturdy all round performance. Locks Simon Borrill and Jim Mason were both strong in scrummaging and open play giving solidness and power to the scrums and the back row of Lewis Wilson, Chris Swainson and Sam Smith, a contributory factor to the cohesion between backs and forwards. The latter had one of his strongest games with the Foresters. Wilson was also impressive.
The first try came after a move involving ten players and was a precursor of things to come. The ball flowed along the line from side to side and ended with Altham crashing over for the try which was converted by Andy Rhodes. This was shortly followed with another combination of backs and forwards allowing Simon Crabtree to grab an unconverted try. 12-0.
The backs had quickly realised that their forwards were giving them opportunity to play to the style they relished and began strutting like champions with the collective will to attack at every opportunity. Half backs Jimmy Bullough (back from injury) and Andy Rhodes were keen to get the line moving. Bullough with fast accurate passes and Rhodes feeding his centres at every opportunity. The centres Mark Simpson and Simon Crabtree, were thrustful and energetic and provided deft handling and good lines of attack. Simpson especially had a good day. Wings Ben Parkinson and Ralph Wellock willing, as always, to join on to any attacking moves, both showed good speed and strong running with many contributions to moves being made. The full back Jordon Arnette had a confident, composed game and proved a valuable asset to this squad.
Following further exhilarating rugby another great move ended with Simpson going over for five points, Rhodes converted. 19-0. So many players were involved in some of the tries scored that it would be impossible to describe the actual movements but let`s just say that everyone contributed in their own way. As often is the case when a team is in the ascendancy a lucky bounce went Wharfedales way and up popped Simpson to go in for another try which was duly converted by Rhodes. Half time score 26-0. Sheffield had to be congratulated for their fighting spirit. They realised that they were under the cosh but defended vigorously at all times, their number eight in particular had an outstanding game.
The replacements came on at various times during the second half and as we have come to expect all played their parts in continuing with the Foresters quest for adventure. These consisted of Matt Close, Nick Atkinson, Will Lawn and Oliver Whyte. There possibly was not quite the fluidity of the first half but a determined effort by all to maintain the driving, attacking spirit already established. Progress was made with a fine individual try from skipper Bullough who shrugged and swerved through four attempted tackles to go in under the posts. Rhodes converted. 33-0. Lawn, who had now replaced Bullough, quickly showed that what one scum half can do, another can and also went in for a very good individual converted try. 40-0. With the Foresters possibly easing off a little, Sheffield replied after sustained pressure on the Wharfedale line with a richly deserved try and conversion illustrating their determined fighting spirit. 40-7. As already mentioned Sheffield are not a poor side, they just met the Foresters on one of those days. Let`s not forget that only last November they beat the Foresters by 43-7.
This was not quite the end of the cabaret and Crabtree crossed for another good converted try, converted and giving a final emphatic score line of 47-7.
Everyone there agreed that the match had been good to watch and had been heart-warming. The continuity of play in the first sixty minutes had been special and the coaches should be proud of what their charges put forward. There on the day were John Metcalfe and Robbie Burnett who expressed their satisfaction with the Greens attitude, determination and team work whilst confessing that the last twenty minutes or so could have been a little more dynamic. But that`s nit-picking and the squad have to congratulated on a very good all round performance. Mention must also be made of the referee, who, whilst not in the spring time of youth, had a good game.
Team: – George Altham, Jake Parkinson ,Tom Jackson, Simon Borrill, Jim Mason, Sam Smith, Lewis Wilson, Chris Swainson, Jimmy Bullough ©, Andy Rhodes, Ralph Welllock, Mark Simpson, Simon Crabtree, Ben Parkinson, Jordon Arnette.
Replacements :- Matt Close , Nick Atkinson, Will Lawn, Oliver Whyte.