Harrogate edge out Chester in low-scoring affair

Two David Doherty penalties proved enough to earn Harrogate RUFC a narrow home win over Chester
Two David Doherty penalties proved enough to earn Harrogate RUFC a narrow home win over Chester

Harrogate RUFC claimed their third National Two North victory of the season when they edged out Chester by a 6-3 scoreline at Rudding Park.

The gap between the two sides may have only been three points in the end, but Harrogate’s forward superiority saw them in control throughout the 80 minutes.

The opening exchanges were fairly even, with the visitors executing some well-worked backs moves but failing to break the Harrogate line.

The deadlock was eventually broken when the away scrum was penalised and David Doherty’s kick opened the Cockerels’ account.

Harrogate also conceded several penalties during the first half, but Chester opted for attacking line-outs which were well contained by the home defence.

A sharp Phil Wickham break then saw him breach the visitors’ line, and although Jake Brady supported well to continue the move, it came to nothing after being brought to an end by a knock-on.

More Harrogate attacks ended with an overambitious drop-goal attempt, but the pressure continued and, from the last move of the half, Chester went offside and Doherty’s second penalty made it 6-0 at the break.

Early in the second period another Harrogate penalty attempt was missed, but the home pressure continued.

Minutes later, the hosts came in from the side at a maul and Callum Bennett’s penalty reduced the arrears at 6-3.

This turned out to be the final score of the match, although the away backs did look dangerous in patches, despite having limited possession.

A sustained period of pressure on the Chester line resulted in a succession of penalties and a yellow card for Kyle Joseph.

Harrogate turned down a number of kickable opportunities and continued to opt for scrums, but the seemingly inevitable penalty try that they were expecting never arrived.

A late Bennett penalty was narrowly off target, and for the remainder of the match the Cockerels retained possession with a succession of driving mauls to deny Chester any further opportunities to save themselves from defeat.

Despite their win, Harrogate remain bottom of the league standings, level on points with local rivals Wharfedale – who beat Scunthorpe at the weekend – and Preston Grasshoppers.