The Wharfedale Foresters fielded a much-changed side for the trip to York. With the notable exception of veteran Jonathan Davies in the centre, the team was one of the youngest second teams the Dale had put out. These factors, coupled with a very greasy pitch following the morning’s showers, meant that it was always going to be difficult to produce a fluent performance. The fact that the afternoon ended with a relatively comfortable win is testament to the side’s determination and the quality of player that the Wharfedale colts section has produced in recent years.
The Foresters got off to a flyer when York tried to run the ball out from their 22. Jake Parkinson, who had a fine game, made a strong tackle and Ollie Snowdon was on hand to turn the ball over. Debutant, Morgan Sword, brushed aside two weak tackles to stroll in for the try. Wharfedale continued to press but a lack of patience prevented further good opportunities being developed. They were made to pay for their wastefulness when York pressure eventually took the play deep into Wharfedale territory. An initial attack was denied by a fine cover tackle from Jack Johnson but a mistake at the ensuing line-out gifted York the ball and an easy score.
The game looked to be reaching half-time with the scores level until the very last play of the half. Ralph Wellock pressured the York full-back following a kick ahead. The ball was recovered and George Altham spotted a gap to charge in under the posts. Johnson added the extras to give the Foresters a 12-5 lead.
The lead possibly flattered Wharfedale, but not for long, as York scored almost immediately after the restart. Wharfedale carelessly conceded possession and compounded this error with a missed tackle to let York cross for a try. The simple conversion levelled the scores. The Foresters bounced straight back and for the rest of the game the defensive effort was much improved. Substitutes Max Metcalfe and Jack Wells came off the bench and both impressed in this area.
Concerted attacks led to penalty which Johnson converted to edge the Foresters into the lead. The side started to put more phases together with strong runs from Nick Taylor, Jacob Taylor and Eddie Gill. The scrum was solid, with the rarity of the props Tom Jackson and George Altham remaining unchanged throughout. The line-out, marshalled by skipper Rhys Davies, also produced plenty of ball.
The second Wharfedale try was tremendous, started deep in their own half. Jake Parkinson made one of his searing breaks. Snowdon supported and wisely the Foresters did not force the off-load. Quick ruck ball gave the backs chance to attack wide and Eddie Gill went over in the corner.
There were further chances but the York defence held. This was not the Foresters finest performance but, against a strong York side, there was much to be positive about and to build on for the season ahead.