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Wharfedale have minds set on winning return
Wharfedale coach Tom McGee believes that his team’s enforced two-week break will have helped them to re-charge their batteries.
As his squad prepared for Saturday’s tough SSE National League One trip to second-placed Blaydon, McGee admitted: “It gave us a chance to let the players re-focus mentally for the tough programme ahead.
“There was no need to make them all travel in from all over to train when we only had limited facilities available to us.
“We have a lot of games still to play and I believe the break will actually helped the players to rest their bodies and get their minds right.”
The break actually came at an opportune time for Wharfedale as they had a number of key players nursing injuries after the 64-20 defeat at Esher in their last game.
In contrast to Wharfedale, Blaydon have kept playing but have lost their last two games away to Fylde and Esher.
McGee said: “Blaydon have been going well this season and are second in the table. It won’t be easy up there, but we won't shy away from the challenge.
“We have to put together a strong forward display and maintain a good shape in defence. If we can do that we have the creative players who can pose problems for Blaydon.”
Wharfedale have found Blaydon to be one of their happier hunting grounds in recent years, and they will be hoping to avenge the 32-28 home defeat they suffered against the north-east side in October.
The Greens had taken an early lead but by half-time had shipped four tries, three of them coming through trying but failing to play attacking rugby on their own line. The fourth try was awarded only on the advice of the touch judge.
So there is much to make up for. The Greens have line-out specialist Richard Rhodes fit again to resume in the second row.
Luke Gray is also back and he will play in the centre, filling the gap left by the unavailable winger Simon Horsfall.
Hooker Steve Graham takes over the rôle of captain, and Tom Wareing comes on to the bench to make his first appearance of the season.
Some Wharfedale eyes may, however, be on Blaydon’s second-string pitch, where Aaron Myers expects to feature for the Foresters. The England Sevens player has been out injured since October.
Coach McGee is full of praise for the contribution the Foresters squad have made this season.
He said: “As a club we are extremely fortunate to have a good second team like the Foresters where the players have bought in to the club ethos and love playing for Wharfedale.
“Our geographical location means that it is essential that we continue to produce players who can come into the first team when required and make their mark.
“In many clubs, fringe players will go looking for first-team places elsewhere, but we are fortunate that we have player who just love this club.”
Wharfedale (at Blaydon): A Whaites; L Davies, J Donkin, L Gray, N Taylor; T Barrett, P Woodhead; A Howard, S Graham, M Tampin, R Brown, R Rhodes, J Mason, A Allen, Dan Solomi. Replacements: J Altham, I Larkin, D Stockdale, T Wareing, J Gough.