On Saturday London Scottish take on our friends from Wharfedale for the first time this season, after the original fixture was postponed due to the bad weather prior to Christmas. Scottish will be looking to maintain their recent good form and turn in another victory to extend their winning sequence.
The Wharfedale club nestles in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales village of Grassington, which has often been described as the most idyllic setting for a rugby club. The club was formed in 1932 and have been resident at their Threshfields location since 1964. Wharfedale pride themselves in being a truly “local” side and many of their players live in the local Dales community. The club is one of the longest serving members of National League 1 (in its various incarnations) since 1994. One of their most famous former players to wear the Wharfedale green is the current President of the club John Spencer. After an illustrious playing career at the highest levels with England, British Lions, and the Barbarians, John continued playing for many years with various Wharfedale sides once his International career had ended.
This season the club embarked with a new Head Coach in charge. Scotsman Tom McGee took over, having previously been the Head Coach at Leeds Metropolitan University. Tom hails from Thurso and during his playing career turned out for Boroughmuir, Edinburgh and the Border Reviers before moving South to finish his playing days at Leeds Carnegie in 2006. During last summer the club lost a number of key players, who moved onto play at a higher level, such as winger James Tinckell at Leeds Carnegie and back rower Tatu Makaafi at Doncaster in the Championship. A key player to look out for in their current squad is full back Tom Davidson who is currently the second top kicker in National League 1 with 160 points. It should also be noted that Tom is the leading penalty converter in the league knocking over 38 penalties so far, so Scottish will need to limit his opportunities. Tries have been more of a challenge for the club this season with back rower Dan Solomi the only Wharfedale player appearing in the league's top fifty try scorers, with 7 tries to his name. Other players to look out for are the experienced centre Chris Malherbe and No 8 and club captain Rob Baldwin.
The form of the club this season has been one of inconsistency. Their home match sequence over the last five games is W,L,W,L,L. Away from home they have not fared any better, having only won one out of their last five away fixtures. The club's fixtures were heavily affected by the poor pre-Christmas weather resulting in a number of postponements, which limited their match time on the pitch. In their last home match Wharfedale recorded their most impressive result of the season when they defeated title challenging Cambridge 31 – 28. However, last weekend the club were brought back down to earth when they were on the wrong side of a 12 – 53 mauling at the hands of Macclesfield. The club will be keen to make amends and will come to Scottish aiming to put last week’s game behind them.
Scottish go into this match high in confidence and with a steely eyed determination to maintain the good form displayed over the last four weeks. The team have started to rack up the points, averaging over 40 points in their last four matches, which have been scored by numerous players from full back through to prop. A truly team performance. The team are now equal on league points with the current league leaders Barking and will be keen to kick on into the final third of the league campaign. Saturday will be a great opportunity for all Scottish supporters to turn out in force and cheer on the team to another victory. See you all there.