Harrogate Rugby have ‘nothing to lose’ in Sedgley clash

Harrogate RUFC's Jake Brady
Harrogate RUFC's Jake Brady

Director of rugby Mike Aspinall says his Harrogate side have nothing to lose against fourth-placed Sedgley Park this weekend (2.30pm).

Harrogate won their Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Tigers 20-5 last Saturday, but the coach is expecting an altogether different proposition away at Sedgley who edged the reverse encounter 37-28.

However, Aspinall is urging his troops to go out and play without pressure, as Harrogate approach the end of the National Two North season in buoyant mood.

“It’ll be a tough one at their place but I think we can be fairly confident,” said Aspinall.

“We’ve won something like eight from the last 10, we’ll spend this week looking at them and see if we can go there and pull a surprise.

“We’re going there with nothing to lose, and the guys will respond to that. It’s a good position to be in.

“We were close against Darlington Mowden Park and some of the other top five sides, so there is an opportunity to beat one.”

At present, captain Jake Brady is the only doubt for the game but could come through a fitness test later this week.

Other than the skipper, Aspinall expects to field a similar side to the one that mauled the Tigers.

Harrogate at present sit seventh in the division.

“I’m pretty happy at the moment,” said Aspinall. 
“We’ve got five games left, three of which are against sides in the top five so it’s a tough finish and it’s not job done, but at best we finish near the top five, at worst, mid-table.

“It’s good to still be challenging in this league at the end of the year.”

After a scoreless first half in difficult muddy conditions, Harrogate raised their game with a workmanlike team performance to earn a comfortable win.

Tigers strayed offside to gift Joe Rowntree a penalty before Brady powered over for a converted try.

Another Rowntree penalty extended the lead but Tigers pressure saw Harrogate concede one of their own, and Nathan Smith was sent to the bin.

Sheffield set up a series of drives but Dan Metcalfe won crucial turnover, and Sam Bottomley broke to set up a forwards drive while Aarin Yorke was in suppport to score.

Tigers continued to contest strongly and their efforts were rewarded when substitute prop Tom Coates crashed over for a consolation try.

“It was a good result for us, we were just happy to get through it,” said Aspinall.

“The weather can be a great equaliser in that sort of fixture, and it was a tough first 40 but we were happy to finish with a win.”