Harrogate beaten by South Leicester

Luke Edwards scored Harrogate's only try in their defeat to South Leicester
Luke Edwards scored Harrogate's only try in their defeat to South Leicester

Harrogate RUFC threw away a 16-7 advantage as they slipped to a home defeat to South Leicester in National League Two North.

The hosts went into half-time 13-7 to the good and still had a healthy lead with 55 minutes on the clock, but a strong finish by the visitors condemned Dave Doherty’s young side to a third consecutive defeat.

“I’m very disappointed with the result, but we’ve made too many basic handling errors and it has ended up costing us,” Doherty said.

“The half-time score possibly flattered us a little bit, but conceding 27 unanswered points in the second period is very hard to take.

“We have to deal with being under pressure better and cut out the silly mistakes and unforced errors.

“The game was ours to lose and unfortunately that is what happened.

“We do have a fairly young and inexperienced side though, and a lot of these lads are still learning. I’m confident that we will get better in time.”

Harrogate’s scrum dominated the early proceedings and there were strong driving runs from Willem Enslin, Connor Ward and Will Dennis during the opening exchanges.

A series of moves eventually broke down due to consistent handling errors, until Leicester went offside in defence and Charlie Morgan’s penalty put the home team 3-0 ahead.

A loose Harrogate kick ahead was then gathered by Ryan Hough whose powerful break was supported by full-back Calum Gunn. The latter touched down before Rickie Aley’s conversion put Leicester 7-3 up.

Doherty’s men fought back, however, and Sam Brady and Jonny Coser drove strongly after stealing a Leicester line-out and, when the visitors were again caught offside, Morgan’s penalty reduced the deficit to 7-6 after half an hour.

An even period of play followed until a Harrogate strike against the head at a 38th-minute scrum produced quick ball for Luke Edwards, the winger zipping through the away defence and going under the posts, with Morgan converting for 13-7.

Trailing by six points, Leicester’s second-half re-start went straight into touch and another Edwards break put more pressure on the visitors’ line.

The visitors cleared their lines, but a Noel Minikin break, supported by Sam Brady kept the home momentum up. Leicester’s defence were caught offside once again and another Morgan penalty made it 16-7.

This was as good as it got for Harrogate, however, and some loose defensive work led to a converted Gareth Clarke try for 16-14.

The hosts continued to attack despite having increasingly limited possession, while skipper Jake Brady made a welcome return from the bench after an injury lay-off.

A Harrogate scrum was then penalised and Aley’s successful kick put Leicester 17-16 ahead.

The next try came from another Aley cross-kick which was gathered at pace by Gareth Turner and converted by Aley.

It was then Aley who rubbed yet more salt into Harrogate’s wounds with a nicely-taken, long-range drop goal, stretching the lead to 27-16.

Continued Leicester pressure on Harrogate’s line was well defended until the hosts were eventually penalised for coming in from the side.

A driving maul followed the attacking line-out and Turner crashed over for his second converted try to round off the scoring at 34-16.

Harrogate RUFC: Barnard, Giles, Nesbitt, Minikin, Edwards, Morgan, Matthews, C Ward, Maycock, Dennis, Harvey, S Brady, J Coser, G Coser, Enslin.

Substitutes: Cutino, Reaveley, J Brady, Brougham, Wickham.