Harrogate travel to Bradford and Bingley on Saturday looking for a fifth win on the bounce (3pm).
Mike Aspinall’s unbeaten troops defeated Waterloo 32-28 at Claro Road last Saturday, rising to second in National Two North and a point behind leaders Chester. In contrast, Bradford have struggled this year and sit 11th in the division.
Harrogate looked comfortable against Waterloo, sitting 29-16 ahead with ten minutes of normal time remaining,. However, two late Waterloo tries brought them back into serious contention. The first one was converted and the second rebounded off the upright. Had it gone over, Waterloo would have taken a one point lead in the fourth minute of injury time.
The match started with some poorly directed aerial ping pong from both sides but a Waterloo penalty from Liam Reeve opened the scoring when Harrogate were penalised for holding. Harrogate then moved up a gear and a a series of attacks with Tom Harvey and Callum Irvine almost scoring saw a powerful forward drive lead to a Steve Maycock try, converted by Irvine.
An attempted break out of defence led to an interception try from Waterloo’s speedy Maltese international winger, James O’Brien. A Luke Edwards break sparked another Harrogate attack and Rob Almond scored a fine converted try. Harrogate again seemed to be taking control but Waterloo were awarded a free kick for a delayed put-in and built up a series of attacks. O’Brien seemed to be well covered on the wing but a skilful chip put the ball over the line and he won the chase for the touchdown. An Irvine penalty was the final score of the half and made it 17-13 at the interval.
Aspinall came off the bench soon after the restart and quickly made an impact. He followed a well taken mark with an immediate “tap and run” to cut through the visiting defence and set up more attacks. A Waterloo counter attack was thwarted by a great Jake Brady turnover and he was extremely unlucky to be then penalised for holding. A further Waterloo penalty was advanced 10 metres for dissent and Reeve’s kick brought them to within one point of Harrogate’s score.
This spurred Harrogate on with forwards and backs combining in a period of sustained pressure. Warhorse flanker, Tim Heaton, crashed over for an unconverted try which was quickly followed by a converted one from skipper Jimmy Browne.
Then came the last ditch, Waterloo fight back.
Winger Andrew Trotter, showed skill and pace to score an excellent converted try and flanker, Carl Nolan then drove over to score from a well controlled forward drive. The conversion was missed and another Irvine penalty, at the death, enabled Harrogate to squeeze home.