Skipton 2nds 15

Wharfedale 4ths 29

TWO long-time Skipton RFC players called time on their playing careers with an emotional farewell in a Skipton 2nd team game at Sandylands at Saturday.

Skipton second team captain Lee Shaw said: "The match as a league fixture was ended on 70 minutes as the final 10 was used as a show of gratitude and respect for two outgoing Skipton legends.

"John Firth has been part of Skipton RFC for 17 years, and Alex Farquhar 35 years. Former teammates, friends and family of both players were in attendance with some even taking the field. "Firthy's Last Stand" saw John fulfill an ambition to play alongside his father David Firth, 62, in the front row.

"With the final play, John was then able to cap his final appearance with a try underneath the posts.

"For John and Alex it was a very emotional farewell to their playing days."

The sunny afternoon at Sandylands saw one of the few rugby fixtures in the district go ahead.

The Skipton second string got off to an uneasy start and took some time to settle down, with handling errors and penalty kicks not finding touch giving possession back to Wharfedale, but a good break by back row forwards Gareth Atkinson and Jordan Wilson fed Ash Greaves who off-loaded back to Atkinson and Skipton were over for the opening try of the game.

Skipton gained a penalty from the re-start for Wharfedale going over the top and put the ball into the corner.

They lost the line-out and a well-worked move by the visitors saw them level the scores with an unconverted try.

Good work by centre Joe Stapleton in the next phase took the ball down field. A Wharfedale high tackle gave Skipton a penalty but they were driven off the line-out. Wharfedale gained the scrum and a swift counter move saw them over for a second unconverted try.

Darren Howson and Tony Spensley came on to bolster the Skipton side but they could not stem the Wharfedale tide, as they ran in try number three and then a converted number four immediately from the re-start.

Skipton gained a penalty for Wharfedale handling on the ground and Howson put in a superbly timed kick through for Atkinson to chase.

The ball bounced into touch and a great forward move from the line-out saw Skipton hooker Michael Murray over for the home side's second try, with the sides turning round at 22-10 to Wharfedale.

The second half saw some expansive play from Skipton with Stapleton to the fore but Wharfedale's fifth try soon came with the conversion taking them to 29-10.

A Skipton penalty was compounded 10 metres for Wharfedale dissent to the referee. Although the visitors gained a free-kick for Skipton delaying the throw-in at the line-out, further dissent to the referee by the same culprit earned him a yellow card and Wharfedale were a man down.

Skipton tapped and ran, putting prop Darren Greenwood over for their third try. Howson's conversion attempt hit the post and the game ended at 29-15 to Wharfedale.

Jacob Taylor scored two tries for Wharfedale and Rory MacNab, Luke Craven and Ed Walker each scored one. MacNab made two conversions.

At the end of official time, Skipton had a further 10 minutes of "dads and lads" social rugby with the Dalesmen, featuring John Firth and his father David Firth, together with Skipton "old stagers" Martin Boatwright and Alex Farquar.

There was also a newcomer to the scene, Will Beech, on the wing. Will is the nephew of Michael Beech, one of Skipton's greatest wingers of former days. A great 10 minutes of running rugby was enjoyed by all.