inconsistent Harrogate were felled 49-13 away at derby foes Huddersfield last week, and for Mike Aspinall’s troops it doesn’t get any easier.
Tomorrow’s visitors are top of the table Loughborough Students (2pm), who arrive at Claro Road after a decent start to the National Two North campaign handed then nine wins, two defeats and one draw.
Not a perfect record but enough to go into the clash as favourites by some way. Harrogate are third from bottom, having won four, drawn one and lost seven.
“We don’t seem to be able to put two wins together,” said team manager Graham Siswick.
“Saturday was a low and the second half was pretty dire. We were level 13-13 but a couple of mistakes then cost us 10 points before half time and we never got across the gain line.
“We have to try and learn from that because tomorrow will be another tough afternoon.”
Harrogate hope to welcome back winger Will Heylings after injury, although Dickie Davies will stay at fly half after Callum Irvine’s injury at Huddersfield.
In the backs, Harrogate will stick with the eight that started in West Yorkshire and the four on the bench.
“We need to raise the bar,” said Siswick.
“We’ve got Loughborough tomorrow and then Caldy away next week. Loughborough have an outstandingly quick back three who score their tries, their full back alone has scored 12 this season.
“They’re lucky to have tremendous facilities and play virtually as a full-time side, and they did the double over us last year.
“We’re third from bottom and in a relegation battle, although there’s still an awful long way to go and a lot of matches to play.
“We do need to make Claro Road something of a fortress, as we’ve won three out of five games at home.
“We have played better here and if we can aim for some consistency and learn from our mistakes we should start to put the performances together.”
A workmanlike Huddersfield performance, with efficiency from both forwards and backs, earned them a comprehensive win against Harrogate. In contrast, Harrogate seriously underperformed, particularly in the backs.
A Matt Roberts penalty put Harrogate ahead but only two minutes later, the visitors went offside and the metronomic boot of kicker Chris Johnson levelled the score.
Harrogate notched another penalty but a freakish bounce caught Harrogate offside for Johnson to equalise.
A series of driving mauls put ‘Gate under pressure, when Ben Innes was judged to have prevented a score illegally and this resulted in a converted penalty try and a yellow card for Innes.
But Harrogate were still in the game thanks to good work by forwards Ryan Peacey, Tim Heaton and Steve Maycock, and Peacey drove over for a try converted by Callum Irvine when Huddersfield strayed offside.
Another Johnson penalty restored Huddersfield’s lead but a catastrophic fumble by Arnie Ellison saw Lee Paxman set up a converted try for Huddersfield centre Mike Clark.
Irvine went off with a shoulder injury and Clark scored his second try from a well constructed back move and replacement hooker Ben Morrill drove through some feeble tackling for seven more home points.
Harrogate persisted with over adventurous back play from defence which never seriously stretched Huddersfield and they responded with quickly spun ball which earned Paxman a converted try.
Still more wild back play in defence resulted in Huddersfield’s Adam Ryder snapping up another loose ball for the sixth home try.
To their credit, Harrogate never gave up and a series of attacking driving mauls were ended by three successive penalties against Huddersfield.