Forgers Pre-season friendly comes to a close finish

The Forgers fought valiantly in the second half shutting out the visiting Kirkburton Cougars in the second half 14-0 on Wednesday night, but came up short in their first friendly of their pre-season.

The side, with no less than 11 new players from last season and 7 who had never played a Rugby League match before the day, started out nervous from the off with a knock-on in the first set of the game followed by a penalty for a ball strip in the next set (which looked at first glance as a one-on-one try-saver!) - and went down early on to a try in the corner, converted for Kirkburton from the edge to go 6-0 up.

Kirkburton who were already playing fixtures and for them this was their third game of the year, then went 14-0 up in as many minutes with another try unconverted.

Then, a flicker of life came from the Forgers side - a completed set followed by a smart relieving kick gave the Forgers chance to defend against Kirkburton deep in their half, and they forced an error off the back of a tough tackle by Sam Parkes - which gave them a chance to play some of the expansive rugby they had been working on during pre-season, resulting in a lovely flowing move into the corner for new captain Ali Waring to go in.

Unfortunately, the conversion hit the post (we just couldn't get any luck!) which took the game to 14-4.

The Forgers just couldn't control the ball for long enough periods in the first half, were misfiring and as a result had to defend for large periods and it showed. Kirkburton raced into a 28-4 lead at half time with 3 more tries.

At half-time, a few conversations about aiming to go out in the second half and set the record straight as the side were better than they were showing, and aiming to go win those individual battles and get one over their opposite numbers seemed to ring true with everyone - and the Forgers went out into the second half like a side possessed. 

Much more purpose, intensity and some ferocious tackling by everyone put the side in a much stronger position - with Kirkburton not able to break the Forgers down, they lost their way and gave scoring opportunities to the Forgers.

This resulted in a lovely period of play where the sizeable vocal crowd that travelled from Kirkburton went very quiet on the sidelines the longer the half went on as the Forgers put the Cougars to the sword - with 2 golden opportunities for tries on either edge just missing the final pass to go in for points - and the Forgers could sense they had the upper hand.

The Cougars, under pressure, kept kicking away as they couldn't get our of their half due to the great defending by the Forgers - giving the Forgers set after set to go and attack them and the pressure that was cranked up when at the back end of a set, the ball went wide to a Kirkburton winger and Nick Roberts put in an almighty tackle knocking the ball loose, for the ever-present Waring to go pick up the loose ball and race down the field for a try on the edge. Unfortunately it was unconverted, resulting in 28-8.

At this point, the Forgers had the Cougars on the ropes - and the side began to start gelling together, gaining an understanding of each other - and off the back of some lovely play Stuart Stogden sent in Aaron Lane off the back of some great work in the middle by the forwards to get them into field position to score in the corner with a lovely flowing move. The score going to 28-12.

Some powerful runs from all players who genuinely could sense the tide turning put the Forgers in a great position, with players moving in and around the park to go do work to help out their teammates with some real great spirit shown.

The Forgers continued to hustle, continued to press and that pressure paid off with a great tackle near the Cougars line by Aaron Lane, for the impressive looking Tom Hughes to pick up and take advantage getting over for a try. This one converted, to take the score to 28-18, and full-time.

After the game, coach Chris Coates said:

"If at the start of the day with the number of new players we had playing someone had told me we we were going to be competitive and end up with a 28-18 scoreline, even a loss? I'd have taken that for a first hit-out. The manner with which we did it in the second half though, shutting them out 14-0 in the second half and being totally dominant once things started clicking with us? I'm pretty chuffed with that.

"We could be on the verge of something special here if we keep progressing that fast. Time will tell!"

Team Captain Ali Waring also added:

"I was proud to wear the shirt for the first time and lead the lads. Everything on paper said that we should of rolled over and lost by 60, when in-fact we walked the dominate side with a mere 8 points behind!"

 

Man of The Match rankings for the day were:

1: Stuart Stogden - 3pts

2: Brad Gozzard - 2pts

3: Ali Waring (c) - 1pt

Leaving "Stoggie" leading the chart currently for the 2019 Forgers Man of Steel.

 

The Forgers regroup for training next week, followed by their second pre-season friendly Saturday 27th April (in the space of our Round 1 fixture due to re-arrangement) against Derby City RLFC who we welcome for the first time for over a decade when the Forgers played them in the Midlands Merit League. Derby have moved on a lot since then, and the Forgers being a reformed side again it will be great to renew old rivalries and reminisce with friends. All welcome to come down and support the boys!

 

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