The Foresters produced one of their best performances of the year in this emphatic win over local rivals Ilkley. The game was played on Ilkley’s second team pitch, which is about as narrow as can be permitted, so the Greens had to work hard to develop and exploit space in the home defence. They did this to great effect throughout the game, resulting in eight quality tries.
Wharfedale dominated possession and territory from the kick-off and opened the scoring in the fifth minute. Will Lawn, who was lively all match, broke blind from a scrum and fed his half-back partner, Andy Rhodes, who scampered over in the corner. Rhodes slotted the conversion. He went on to convert all eight tries from all angles and was quick to point out that the pitch was not that narrow.
The next try came from a slick move in the backs following quick ball from the line-out. Mark Simpson’s deft inside pass opened up the Ilkley midfield and Ralph Wellock outpaced the covering defence to score close to the posts. The game was now all Wharfedale’s and several opportunities for scores were prevented by last ditch Ilkley tackling before captain Matt Hall capitalised on a mistake at the back of the scrum to steal the ball and touch down. The Wharfedale pack dominated the scrum and line-out with props Tom Jackson, Nick Atkinson and his replacement, George Altham, all enjoying their afternoon’s work.
Ilkley had two brief periods close to the Wharfedale line before half-time but resolute defence meant that their only return was a couple of penalties. In between these scores Will Lawn made another fine break and this time did not need any help as he darted over to score. Another score went begging after Simon Borrill, clearly the modern second row, broke from inside his own twenty-two to race 60 yards, beating three defenders, only for the final pass to go astray.
Ilkley raised their game at the start of the second half and there was no further score for the next quarter. With the game won, the young Greens could have rested on their laurels but, having absorbed some threatening Ilkley attacks, went on to play some more outstanding rugby in the last twenty minutes.
The first try of the half was a penalty try awarded when the Ilkley scrum disintegrated on their own line under the pressure from the Wharfedale eight. Josh Prell then showed his quality with a fine break to release Jake Starkey who was never going to be caught from 20 yards out. The penultimate try was possibly the best of the lot. A clean line-out gave the backs ideal ball to attack. The pace and accuracy of the handling and running lines gave Ben Parkinson the space to charge over on the wing.
The final try was fitting as it involved a bullocking charge by Jack Kitching, who was at the heart of the action throughout the game. His break was finished off by Will Lawn, capping a fine game, notable not only for his attacking play but also his forthright tackling. Andy Rhodes, in probably his best game for the Foresters, completed the scoring.
1. Nick Atkinson 2. Jake Parkinson 3. Tom Jackson 4. Simon Borrill 5. Sam Smith jnr 6. Matt Hall (c) – 1T 7. Oliver Snowdon 8. Jack Kitching 9. Will Lawn – 2T 10. Andy Rhodes – 1T, 8C 11. Josh Prell 12. Mark Simpson 13. Joe Slater 14. Ralph Wellock – 1T 15. Ben Parkinson – 1T
16. George Altham 17. Jake Starkey – 1T 18. Rhys Davies 19. Oliver Whyte