Gate chief: ‘We can beat drop’

Harrogate RUFCs director of rugby Dave Doherty is confident of leading his side to safety in National Two North. Picture: Keith Hunt
Harrogate RUFCs director of rugby Dave Doherty is confident of leading his side to safety in National Two North. Picture: Keith Hunt

Dave Doherty is backing his young Harrogate RUFC side to beat the drop in the wake of a much-needed victory over relegation rivals Luctonians.

Mired in the bottom three for most of the 2016/17 campaign, the Cockerels have struggled for form, winning just five of 18 National Two North fixtures to date.

Yet the five points garnered from Saturday’s 26-24 success saw them escape the relegation places, an achievement that the club’s director of rugby believes will prove a huge psychological boost to his squad.

“It’s brilliant for the boys. We’re not going to let it go to our heads because it’s incredibly tight at the bottom, but we’re starting to look up the table rather than over our shoulders,” he said.

“We’re going to concentrate on what we’ve been doing all year and keep building and trying to climb the league.

“We had a bad start but we’ve changed style and changed the experienced players and I’ve got every confidence that we will still be playing our rugby in this division next season.

“I said it before the wins started to come, we went away to promotion-chasing Stourbridge and we dominated the game.

“We didn’t get the result on the day, but the performance was there and that was the start of it for us, it’s been building since then.”

‘Gate, who now sit 12th in the league standings, face another crunch showdown this weekend when they visit second-from-bottom Sheffield Tigers.

Looking ahead to the fixture, Doherty believes that it is another “must-win” game for his side, but is backing his players to continue their recent progress and chalk up back-to-back victories.

“All these games are must-win. If you go into this type of fixture with a relegation rival or a derby game not thinking it’s a must-win then there’s something wrong,” he added.

“This group has really grown and you can see it, especially when we play at home.

“We’re starting to convert our chances, we’ve started to exert pressure on the opposition and I think we’ll do the same when we go away.

“The games can’t come quick enough for the team at the moment. I’m just looking forward to Saturday now, bring it on.”