No half measures for Deacon and company at Wharfedale
CINDERFORD are ready to play their way out of trouble at Wharfedale tomorrow – at least for half the match.
Foresters boss Andy Deacon has told his side to be wary of the infamous Wharfeside Avenue slope in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).
Deacon's men are gunning for a league double over the Threshfield outfit, after edging them out 36-23 at Dockham Road in November.
Cinderford sit ninth in National League One – but rugby director Deacon has challenged his side to beat last year's eighth-place finish.
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The ex-Gloucester front-rower knows full well Wharfedale exploit their home ground's lop-sided pitch, trying to force opponents into mistakes when misjudging it.
And he has warned his side not to fall prey to that time-honoured trop.
Deacon explained: "The Wharfedale pitch has a fairly pronounced slope.
"They use it to their advantage, without a doubt.
"And we've spoken about that at length this week.
"We know it will play a big part in the game, and having been up there a few times, we will absolutely use our knowledge of their ground to our advantage if we can.
"When we are playing against the slope then Wharfedale will try to trap us in our own 22, to make it difficult for us to relieve pressure through clearance kicks.
"What we must do in that situation is not panic – they will want us to try to clear in early phases, but that may well not always be the best course of action.
"So if we have to go through a few more phases and set ourselves a different platform from usual for our exits, then that's what we'll do.
"The flip side of that is that we've got to return the favour.
"So while they will try to make the slope work for them, we've got to capitalise on it when we've got the better of it."
Admitting Cinderford will try to expand their game as the skies brighten and the pitches harden, Deacon said his side will not start attacking from everywhere.
Just as they must pick their pitch battle wisely tomorrow due to that slope, so Deacon said his charges must be careful of when to strike – and when to take a pragmatic approach instead.
He continued: "We can play a bit more expansively if the weather and the ground permits it as the season draws on.
"We'll be looking at that, and the players love that style of rugby.
"It's great to see at Cinderford – a bit of a change from the days when Mark Cornwell and I would purposely slow it down so we could keep up!
"We want to play with tempo, width and pace – but only when the chances allow and when it is right to do so."
CINDERFORD: M Wilcox, N Codlin, J Adams, D Scourfield, L Stapleton, M Davies, D Pointon, J Smart, T Bozzard, B West, D Critchley, R Langley, W Foden, J Garner. Replacements: N Selway, S Bailey, L Allen, E King, K Done.