Harrogate 42-22 South Leicester: Gate continue hot streak in Rudding Lane thriller

Lewis Minikin strides forward against South Leicester (Photo: David Aspinall)
Lewis Minikin strides forward against South Leicester (Photo: David Aspinall)

Harrogate 42-22 South Leicester

Free-scoring Harrogate claimed a fourth win in succession in a frantic fixture at home to South Leicester.

South Leicester’s famed power play put them 10-0 ahead after 20 minutes but Harrogate hit a purple patch and rattled in three converted tries to lead at the break.

Three more converted second half tries gave them a seemingly comfortable win but Leicester competed strongly throughout the match and scored two more tries though failed to secure a bonus point with a fourth one.

Strong early Leicester scrummaging led to Harrogate being penalised and Rickie Aley’s penalty opened the scoring. More good scrum ball then led to forward drives and the ball was spun wide for winger, Blane Howe to score a converted try.

Powerful Willem Enslin drives had tested Leicester’s defence from the start and it was no surprise when he drove over to open Harrogate’s account.

A Callum Irvine break was well supported by Alex Nesbitt and Noel Minikin and, when the move was checked, Harrogate’s pack drove strongly and scrum Half, Danny Matthews crashed over in the corner.

Lewis Minikin, who kicked faultlessly all match, converted from the touchline. Further sparkling back play got good forward support and tight head prop, Connor Ward burst through the defence to end the half with a spectacular 20 metres try.

Leicester, fourth bottom in the table, attacked strongly from the restart but a big Tom Larder tackle restored possession to Harrogate.

A quick Irvine flick pass was taken on by Harrogate’s Jake Brady who had another toweringly inspirational game.

The ball was recycled to prop, Charley Purkiss-McEndoo who cut inside to wrong foot the defence and score yet another spectacular, long range prop’s try.

Leicester continued to compete and a series of forward drives resulted in a converted Roddy McNaughton try. They then came within six points of Harrogate when Scrum half, Chris Gibbs darted over from good line-out ball.

This stung Harrogate into further action with Enslin drives setting up prolonged pressure on the Leicester line. Winger, Sam Bottomley pounced on quickly released ball to dart over in the corner and another Minikin touchline conversion followed.

The final try started with a strong Tim Heaton break which was taken on by Irvine who slipped the ball to Brady whose thunderous drive scattered defenders for the game’s final try.

The bonus-point victory moved Harrogate above fierce rivals Otley into sixth place in National Two North.

Mike Aspinall's men still have two matches in hand on Caldy above them, with a seven-point gap between the sides.