DESPITE losing to Otley last weekend, a vastly improved performance will stand Wharfedale in good stead as it prepares for this Saturday's clash at the Avenue against top of the league Hull Ionians (2pm kick-off).

Although the Greens lost 16-8 to a good Otley team on Saturday, Wharfedale coach John Feeley said: "It was a vast improvement from the week before. The desire and character of the Wharfedale team I recognise was there.

"We were playing an experienced Otley side with a big pack who were almost a stone a man heavier than us. That weight and experience finally told in the end.

"There was no lack of effort from us. I was proud of our performance."

Feeley praised a couple of the youngsters who put in fine performances for Wharfedale last Saturday.

"Jack Hirst made his first start at prop and played well. He's clearly a big player for Wharfedale for the future.

"Ben Blackwell is also showing how strong a runner he is at the back.

"We're a very youthful team," said Feeley. "Harry Bullough is our most experienced player at the back. Without him, the average age of our backs is 20.

"So the possibilities for this team looking forward are very good," he said. "Hull Ionians are another Yorkshire derby for us, and another good opponent is really giving us a good opportunity to play against top players in tough situations.

"Ionians, like Otley, are a very physical side. They're very big, in particular in their front row.

"We'll learn from last weekend and that will help us to apply ourselves this weekend."

Prop Joe Altham, who went off with a hamstring injury last Saturday, is unlikely to feature this weekend.

Another Wharfedale prop, Reece Ward, will face a fitness test on his hand injury this week.

Back row James Tyson also faces a fitness test after he suffered a deep gash on his leg at Otley and had to be taken to hospital for stitches.