Aspinall targets top five seat at Christmas table

hsb  Harrogate v Bromsgrove. Noel Minikin   (131012M3f)
hsb Harrogate v Bromsgrove. Noel Minikin (131012M3f)
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Pleased Harrogate RUFC director of rugby Mike Aspinall sees the next two months as an opportunity to edge closer to his season’s goals.

Aspinall set 11th-placed Gate three targets before the campaign started, to have a positive points difference, to be the best National Two North side in Yorkshire and to finish in the top five.

Saturday’s 47-22 win over basement side Dudley Kingswinford overturned Gate’s adverse scoring difference.

And with an easier looking fixture list, Aspinall reckons his troops can overhaul Yorkshire rivals Otley by Christmas for a top five place.

Gate welcome eighth-placed Birmingham Solihull to Claro Road this Saturday and Aspinall knows a win will move his side above the West Midlands side (2pm).

He said: “If we are wanting to finish in the top five, these are the teams we have to be beating. The teams in the middle, this is where it’s interesting,

“After eight games, having played the top five, we are on a positive points difference.

“We have had so many injuries and tough games. It shows a sign of a good team to have only won three games but have a positive goal difference.

“We are looking forward to getting a host of mid-table teams and moving up the table before Christmas.”

It needed a second-half revival for Gate to overcome Dudley on Saturday after trailing 17-14 at half-time.

Harrogate were missing 11 first team players for the clash but centre Kyle Dench returned to the first XV after recovering from a foot problem.

An early home turnover resulted in a scoring opportunity for right winger Oyekan but he spilled the ball when almost clear.

Shortly afterwards, DK set up a series of forward drives from yet another turnover. This time the ball was spun left and winger Marshall touched down in the corner.

Dudley’s early lead failed to last, as Danny Matthews scampered over from a five metre scrum, Joe Rowntree converting.

Dudley responded with a penalty before a silky Oli Denton break led to Luke Edwards scoring a converted try.

Three penalties before the break handed the home-side a narrow lead. But into the second period,

Gate flung the ball with greater panache.
Powerful drives from Tim Heaton, Nathan Smith, Jake Brady, Tom Harvey and Steve Maycock tore holes in the home defence before Rowntree crossed over.

Danny Matthews and Aaron Yorke ran over to extend the lead but Dudley continued to probe and Scrivens burst through to claw points back.

Scrum-half Matthews capped an excellent individual performance with a hat-trick try, before Edwards wrapped up the victory after another high octane backs move.

Aspinall said: “They frustrated us in the first half. They were quite good in the contact area and offered something different there to other teams in this league.

“Our execution was much better in the second half.

“There was a lot of nice rugby being played.

“They are a smart bunch of players and are coming to terms with the game management themselves. “

Meanwhile, Harrogate’s newly-formed third team continued their unbeaten start to existence as they beat Old Modernians 2nds 29-10.

Harrogate top the Central/North District Merit Table after eight straight wins.