AFTER what must have been one of the most disjointed seasons any team could possibly be faced with, Wharfedale Foresters arrived at Malton and Norton on Sunday for the final of the League Cup.

No side ever deserved it more and fitting that they should have reached this final to show they have not been put off course, by what must have been one of the strangest seasons on record.

To be perfectly honest Sunday was not quite the Foresters’ best of days and against the description used in their semi-final victory of scintillating rugby played, this was more a case of toughening it out. Which they did.

In the early part of the game, it was important that the defensive qualities of Wharfedale came into play. None more so than the irrepressible Blackwell, although all the pack had to be on their toes with good tackling and cover defence. The first score was a penalty awarded to the Foresters, well converted by Ryan Hodgson who replaced the regular Foresters full back and did extremely well in his absence.

The next ten minutes or so consisted of a series of mistakes by both sides but a well worked move along the line with several players involved, gave winger Joe Gill the chance to go over for the first try of the match, an excellent conversion by Hodgson and the lead extended to 10-0.

This period was nearly certainly the spell that Wharfedale were at their best and the consistent Tom Darwin, again after good exchange movement by forwards and backs , scored an impressive try to give a well-deserved lead at 15-0. Just before half-time, Billingham who were beginning to look much sharper after the introduction of replacements fought back with a try and conversion and a turn round with the scoreboard showing 15-7 to the Foresters. Just before half time Elliot Stockton who again was giving a productive performance was yellow carded.

After the interval Wharfedale started off brilliantly , firstly with a penalty converted by Hodgson and then a further seven points claimed by the same player after following up scrambled defence from Billingham which he capitalised on and added the conversion to give a seemingly comfortable lead of 25-7.

The Foresters were looking good but sport, when everything seems to be running smoothly, has a way of making you look silly sometimes and for no apparent reason Wharfedale seemed to go off the boil for a twenty-minute period. Of course, Billingham came back strongly into the game.

The half back pairing of Max Bell and Omar Kaup Samuels had provided their usual efficiency in the first half and Bell could be credited with several ground gaining kicks to touch throughout the game.

Billingham had now gained some supremacy and they quite quickly and deservedly scored in the first instance a try, converted followed by a penalty to bring the scores to 25-17.

Replacements were now being introduced by both sides and this did appear to give Wharfedale a much-needed boost. One of those individuals, Will Beecroft, cut through some flimsy Billingham challenges before pouncing for a try and a final score of 30-17.

This was probably not the finest performance by the Foresters this season but possibly best summed up by Simon Verbickas, Director of Rugby, after the game: “The Foresters have provided quality rugby all season and richly deserved to come away with this victory.”