Harrogate must lower penalty count in Otley derby, insists Aspinall

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Discipline will be key for Harrogate in Saturday’s crunch derby against old adversaries Otley, according to director of rugby Mike Aspinall.

Gate were held to a 20-20 draw at fellow Yorkshire side Hull in National Two North on Saturday, their second draw in as many away fixtures this season.

And the club’s lead coach said his charges were guilty of giving away too many penalties, an area that needs sharpening during the clash against Otley.

Gate were reduced to 13 men in the first half against Hull with two players sin-binned, and they were unable to recoup the 14-point advantage it handed to the hosts.

Callum Irvine kicked a penalty before tries from Kyle Dench and two for former Hull head coach Kerry Wood brought the scores to a tie.

Aspinall admitted sharing the spoils was “disappointing” but he said the side’s improvement week by week is relaxing any frustrations.

Gate scored two tries from catch and drive mauls, and Aspinall was encouraged his forwards had taken on board what they have learnt in training.

And he was confident his team could take another step forward against Otley.

He said: “It’s disappointing not to win games that you think you could have win but it’s quite an interesting evolution of this team getting better each week.

“We are showing more strength week by week and we have one of the best defensive records in the league in terms of tries scored against us.

“We have been putting a lot of work into our catch and drive so it is always good to see that paying off.

“But there are a lot of aspects in rugby and we are certainly giving away too many penalties. We have to look at those and that’s probably why we are not winning games.”

Gate are eighth in National Two North after scoring nine points in their first four fixtures.

The table suggests Saturday’s battle (kick-off 3pm) will be as tight as ever, with both teams locked together in mid-table and Gate having scored one more point.

Aspinall added: “Otley have got off to a good start and results wise they seem to be pretty impressive.

“It’s obviously difficult, at this stage in the season, to say for sure as we haven’t played anybody they have.

“But they beat Chester by 20 points at the weekend and that shows we are going into the game playing a team in good form.”

Meanwhile, Harrogate Pythons hammered Hemsworth 34-3 to earn their third straight victory in Yorkshire Three.

The Pythons are placed sixth ahead of this week’s trip to high flying Northallerton, who have also won three of their opening four games.

l Are you heading to the Yorkshire derby at Claro Road on Saturday? Share your thoughts on how the game is going on Twitter to @HarrogateSport