A win at last for Harrogate

Danny Matthews scored Harrogate RUFC's third try in their victory over Leicester Lions. Picture: Richard Bown
Danny Matthews scored Harrogate RUFC's third try in their victory over Leicester Lions. Picture: Richard Bown

Harrogate RUFC recorded their first victory of the season when they beat Leicester Lions 27-10 at Rudding Park.

Dave Doherty’s side had lost their opening six National Two North fixtures, but a dominant scrummaging performance laid the foundations for a richly-deserved and much-needed success over their high-flying opponents.

A pair of first-half touch downs put Gate in control at the break, and although two yellow cards gave Leicester some hope in the second period, the visitors still failed to counteract the hosts’ forward power and were unable to find a way back into the match.

Harrogate started the game by making a mess of the Lions kick-off, but quickly recovered to go on the attack.

A well-directed Dickie Davies cross-kick was brilliantly taken by Luke Edwards, and although the attack broke down after a knock-on, Gate won a strike against the head from the ensuing scrum and number eight Tim Heaton powered over for the day’s opening try.

Full-back Charlie Morgan added the extras for a 7-0 advantage.

The pressure continued and, when Leicester were penalised for a high tackle, Morgan’s penalty extended the lead.

Still more Harrogate attacks followed until a spilled midfield pass led to the home side going offside and Jon Boden’s penalty opened the visitors’ account. This was however quickly followed by a Gate midfield turnover, from which the Lions went offside, and Morgan’s kick restore the 10-point difference at 13-3.

Leicester scrum-half Tom Emery sparked an attack as the away side looked for a way back into the match, but Doherty’s men again won a turnover and a towering Morgan clearance bought play back to the Leicester 22.

Continued forward drives followed from the ensuing line-out saw Sam Brady eventually burst through the cover to touch down.

Morgan converted for the second time for 20-3 as half-time approached.

Josh Peace, the hosts’ loose head prop, had to leave the field with an arm injury just before the interval, but Gate’s scrum superiority continued unabated. Scrum-half Danny Matthews tucked in behind a 15-metre scrum drive for another converted try to make it 27-3 after just 12 minutes of the second period. However, Leicester refused to give up, and, despite living off scraps, their talented backs forced Harrogate into a rearguard action.

Jonny Coser came in from the wrong side in defence and was duly despatched to the sin-bin, and Lions prop Ben Spokes burst over the try-line to reduce the arrears.

Despite being a man down, Harrogate’s forward power forced their visitors to concede a stream of penalties, but, in trying to go for the fourth try and earn themselves a bonus point, the hosts spurned several kickable opportunities and failed to add to their score.

At the death, the Lions showed admirable spirit, giving Gate’s defence a serious test in a lost cause, but, in spite of Sam Brady also being yellow carded, Doherty’s troops held out.