The Foresters produced another fighting recovery to beat a strong Blaydon second team in an enthralling game at the Avenue.
Wharfedale were quickly into their stride and dominated the early part of the game. The play was concentrated in the Blaydon half. Blaydon’s defence, as was to be the case throughout the match, was resolute and a number of promising attacks were repelled. However, a penalty led to an attacking line-out from which the Green pack forced its way over the line with Jake Parkinson, enjoying his return from 1st XV bench duties, touching down. Jack Johnson converted to make the lead 7-0.
At this stage, the Foresters looked to be in control and it seemed likely that they would be the next scorers. Unfortunately, ill-discipline at the breakdown saw them penalised and pushed back up the field, and eventually offered Blaydon a penalty chance to make it 7-3. It also saw Jack Kitching somewhat harshly yellow carded but Wharfedale saw out the half without conceding further points.
The extra man helped Blaydon increase their attacking threat after the restart. Strong running in the centres saw the visitors score near the posts and the simple conversion took them into the lead. Kitching returned from his enforced break and the game was evenly poised. The Wharfedale pack again had the upper hand in the scrum, with Jack Wells, and Jack Hirst stepping in well from the bench. Ian Larkin returning from injury had a fine game in the second half and was at the heart of the action throughout.
Wharfedale claimed the next score when concerted attacks were followed by a five metre scrum. Jack Kitching scoring the push-over try. Johnson missed the conversion. Back came Blaydon and the visitors had their best period of the match culminating in another try this time unconverted to lead 15-12. They were looking likely to hold their winning position as the clock ticked down.
Rhys Davies’ men showed against Doncaster that they would fight to the last minute and so it proved again. The determination in defence was excellent. Jake Starkey and Davies made numerous telling tackles and, in the backs, Ollie Snowdon came on at centre and prevented Blaydon making further gains up the middle of the park. To a man the Foresters should be proud of their performance in regaining the momentum. Several phases of good play opened up space on the left flank and Snowdon hit a good line to go over. From the restart the Foresters took play into the Blaydon 22. An error with a kick to touch going dead in goal gave Blaydon a last chance to clear up field but the drop out was run back by debutant Charlie Graham. He had showed glimpses of how quick he is and made the most of the space left open for him from the kick. Jacob Taylor was on hand in support to claim the try to finish proceedings.
The 22-15 score-line may have been a tad harsh on the Blaydon side but the result is no more than the Foresters deserved.