A very encouraging start to the season.
On a perfect evening for rugby, Wharfedale Foresters showed yet again that they will probably be formidable opponents, whoever they meet. The squad consisted of twenty six players all of whom were used. The match provided an extremely good work out for what lies ahead. A decent crowd for a Wednesday evening included the usual Wharfedale diehards supporting the Green squad who were a truly mixed bunch of players, including experienced stalwarts, new faces and several returning from injury. We were treated to an uncompromising game with the Yorkshire League One side meeting one of the best club second fifteens in the North of England. No quarter was asked or given.
The Foresters eight dominated a hefty selection of fellows and on the majority of occasions pushed them back a considerable distance. The front row of George Altham, Jake Parkinson and Tom Asejevs were unrelenting, dogged and determined. The second row Keiran Frost and Morgan Davies were solid in assistance and a hard working back row of Sam Smith, Tom Whyte and Chris Swainson once again complimented the five in front of them. The Greens convincing victory was built around this reliable, hard working group and the replacements who followed. At one stage in the game coach Metcalfe pointed out that we had five props playing in the pack – beat that ! Parkinson made his usual strong “scrum half style“ breaks which are always an advantage to any side that has a hooker who can do this.
It was a fast and furious start and at this stage the strength of the opposition was not apparent. After good ball handling the Greens struck with a good try from Will Lawn, playing at centre. 0-5 to the Greens. By agreement with both sides conversions were not taken. Soon after the Greens forwards began to show their strength and technique with a powerful push over try that was awarded to Swainson. 0-10. At this point it should be mentioned that the referee was awarding a great number of penalties for infringements carried out by Salem around the scrum in particular.
Salem did show that they could play good rugby when, after strong play, they crashed over for a deserved try. 5-10 which was also the score at halftime. Salem finished 6th in their league last season and will be striving to improve on that.
During the first forty minutes you may ask how the backs were performing? Well not scintillating but thoroughly adequate with safe passing, good tackling and very few errors which, for their first match of the season, was exactly correct. Captain Jimmy Bullough provided his usual energetic, encouraging style. Fly half Max Bell was his trusty accomplice. The wingers Ralph Wellock and Josh Prell gave strong running performances but were not given much room to work in against a well organised defence. They were rumbustious in approach and attitude. The centres Ben Booth and Will Lawn provided strong linking support. The backs were completed by full back Marcus Farnworth, who had a fine good all round game. The overall defence of both teams was excellent and the Greens did well to create scoring chances from the opportunities given to them. It should also be remembered that several players, understandably, did show signs of rustiness after lengthy periods of injury.
Further forward domination gave Asejevs the opportunity to go over, shortly followed by Joe Fawcett who scored a similar try. 5-20. Fawcett was one of the replacements the others being Tom Jackson, Jack Hirst, Jack Wells, Simon Borrill, Archie Hancock, Rory McNabb, Simon Crabtree, Ben Blackwell, Robbie Davidson and Jordan Annett. Every one of the replacements contributed to the overall team effort and victory. Wharfedale is so fortunate to have the quality of players such as these on the bench. One for the note books by the way would be Ben Blackwell, formerly with Keighley RUFC, who proved to be a good strong tackler with pace and strength. Back to the game and the Greens were starting to show their fitness levels and direct approach to the try line. After good passing amongst the backs, Hirst went in and then the powerful running Blackwell burst through making the score 5-30.
Salem responded with an excellent interception try. 10-30. The final score was created by the ever dependable Davidson who sprinted away in usual fashion to give the 10-35 result which was richly deserved. The result had to be put down to team effort, consistency and the overall attitude this squad possesses with no prima donnas but a delightful winning attitude which has taken years to develop. They are always a pleasure to watch and Head Coach James Doherty, who was in attendance , was extremely pleased with their performance . Also in attendance were coaches John Metcalfe and “Mr Consistent” Robbie Burnett. As usual there was every indication that the coaches at Wharfedale had done their usual good work. It is too early to suggest it but another good season looks to be in the offing. Let us hope so! The only negative as far as Wharfedale was concerned would be that four players came off with injuries. Let us hope they are not long term.
Starting line-up :- George Altham, Jake Parkinson, Toms Asejevs, Keiran Frost, Morgan Davies, Sam Smith, Tom Whyte, Chris Swainson , Jimmy Bullough (c) , Max Bell, Ralph Wellock, Ben Booth, Will Lawn, Josh Prell, Marcus Farnworth .
Replacements :- Tom Jackson, Jack Hirst, Jack Wells, Simon Borrill, Joe Fawcett , Archie Hancock, Rory McNabb, Simon Crabtree, Ben Blackwell, Jordon Annett, Robbie Davidson.