Thursday 26th August 2021
Friendlies are the perfect way for all teams to experiment and try out various formulas, prior to the season proper commencing. This was the perfect example when Foresters were matched against their old friends North Ribblesdale. Your scribe has watched numerous Foresters matches over a period of many years, even when Clartie was playing, reporting on a goodly number and it has to be said in the first instance that the Greens defence is outstanding.. Opposition sides must have the impression of a blanket being thrown over them and the defence coach responsible please take a bow. In two matches within a week the Foresters did not concede a point.
North Ribblesdale were a match for the Foresters in the forwards but had difficulty suppressing the Greens lively backs. The starting backs being Lewis Kincart and Max Bell at Half back, with three-quarters Josh Prell, Ben Blackwell, Nick Taylor, Omar Karp Samuels and Marcus Farnworth at full Back. Forwards were Chris Steel, skipper Dan Stockdale, George Altham, Simon Borrill ,Ben Leacock, Elliot Stockton, Max Mountain and Jack Thompson. Considering this bunch have , in the main, not often played together they did remarkably well to find cohesion and provide a great deal of free flowing rugby when the opportunity presented itself. Let us also mention at this stage that included in the Wharfedale cast, as substitutes were Ben Oakes, Jack Burton, Joe Fawcett, Jim Bowers, Ethan Spencer, Alfie Weston, Fred Hewetson, Jonathon Davies, Chance Marsden, Jack Pinder Sam Arkwright and the indefatigable Sam Gaudie. As motley a crew of youth and experience you could ever wish to find. Very difficult to pick out individual players as all the squad contributed to good effect.
The Foresters were extremely quick to spot any gaps that appeared in the home sides defence, which resulted in tries from Prell, Kincart and Taylor with conversions from Farnworth, during the first half. Ribblesdale were never out of this competition and gave their coaches some idea of what they have to work on , showing that the talent is there ,just requiring fine tuning. Wharfedale made numerous changes for the second half and it took a time for fluency to return but return it did with further tries from Gaudie, Steele,, Weston, Stockton and Oakes, conversions from Gaudie, Samuels and Davies. Try of the match certainly that of Chris Steel`s who bore a striking resemblance to Usain Bolt as he thundered over for his moment of glory. Great to see him back, as with one or two of the others in the Wharfedale squad.
Were the Foresters perfect. No that could not be said as certain areas need working on and improving but they are a formidable squad and the Club have relied over many years on the strength of this team being the perfect back up for the senior side. Once again special praise to all the coaches who have obviously worked extremely hard to develop this bunch of players. Should Ribblesdale be dispirited -not at all. They have talent in many areas and it is now a question of patiently developing that talent. This may take a little longer that many would hope but the promise is certainly there. Always a pleasure to go to North Ribblesdale and this was no exception. We wish you well for the coming season.