Harrogate RUFC captain Jake Brady has warned local rivals Otley that his side are more motivated than ever ahead of Saturday’s derby clash at Rudding Lane.
The Cross Green outfit conceded their Yorkshire Cup semi-final with Sheffield Tigers on Saturday because they were unable to field a front row.
Yet, Brady believes that the Beavers had an ulterior motive for pulling out of the game.
“I don’t believe that a team like Otley couldn’t find the players to field a front row,” he said.
“The rumours I’ve heard are that they are more focused on wanting to beat us on Saturday and trying to send us down.
“Apparently, they’ve got a few guys carrying knocks at the moment and didn’t want to risk picking up more injuries in the semi-final.
“If this is the case then I think it’s massively disrespectful to what is a famous old competition.
“It’s also fuelled the flames ahead of what was already a big game this weekend. This makes us even more determined to go out and do a job on Otley.”
‘Gate go to into this weekend’s fixture just one place and four points above the National Two North relegation zone, but knowing that victory will go a long way to guaranteeing their safety for another season.
And with Otley just one position ahead of his side and on a poor run of form having lost six league games on the bounce, Brady is bullish about the Cockerels’ chances.
“I expect us to win the game,” he added.
“We’ve had the upper hand in recent years and they haven’t got a result at Rudding Lane for a long time. I’m sure that’s playing on the mind of their players and I want them to know that we are going to beat them again this time.
“It’s a local derby, so there’s always plenty of emotion involved, but there’s extra spice on this occasion.
“Playing with emotion is what wins you this kind of game, but we just have to make sure that we stay smart and don’t become reckless.”
Had Otley played and won their semi-final, they would have ended up facing ‘Gate in the final, after Brady and his teammates came out on top of their own last-four encounter with Hull.
Victory over Sheffield Tigers in April 26’s showpiece would seal a historic third consecutive Yorkshire Cup triumph for the Aces.
“To lift one Yorkshire Cup was an unbelievable achievement, but to do it three times would be special,” Brady said.
“It’s never been done at Harrogate and I’d be really proud to be part of a side that made a little bit of history.”