Harrogate well beaten at Luctonians

Harrogate RUFC conceded 17 points while Willem Enslin, above, was in the sin-bin during their defeat at Luctonians
Harrogate RUFC conceded 17 points while Willem Enslin, above, was in the sin-bin during their defeat at Luctonians

A weakened Harrogate RUFC lost out 35-5 at Luctonians in National Two North, despite producing one of their most encouraging performances of the season.

As half-time approached, the hosts held had a narrow 8-5 lead, but a midfield interception gifted them a converted try and the 15-5 interval score didn’t accurately reflect the play.

Harrogate’s scrum dominated throughout, but basic mistakes cost the side possession at crucial times.

Despite tenacious defence, these errors led to the talented home backs scoring a further unanswered 20 second-half points.

With a strong wind behind them, Harrogate mounted early pressure and a Dave Doherty pass to debutant winger, Olly Rosillo, almost led to a try.

The Harrogate pressure continued and Steve Maycock eventually crashed over in the corner for the opening try of the game.

Dominant Harrogate scrummaging was driving Luctonians backwards, though it often failed to satisfy referee Mr Brown’s interpretation of the laws, allowing the hosts to relieve the pressure with penalties.

From one of those penalties, the Herefordshire side set up a driving maul and quick ball was spread to winger John Norris who sped over for the equalising touchdown.

Scrum-half Louis Silver orchestrated Luctonians’ attacks and also kicked the penalty which put them 8-5 ahead after a Harrogate offside offence.

Then, on the stroke of half time, stand-off, Tom Jones gratefully accepted the midfield interception opportunity and ran in an unopposed converted try from 50 metres out.

Trailing 15-5, Harrogate had to face the strong wind in the second period, but attacked straight from the re-start and a very even opening 20 minutes of the half ensued. The visitors’ scrum continued to dominate, with both Brady brothers driving strongly in the loose and some tenacious Danny Matthews tackling thwarting a number of Luctonians attacks.

Charlie Morgan had an excellent game at full-back, skilfully setting up counter attacks from defence and just as a home try seemed certain from a chip over the goalline, Harry Barnard outsped the attack for a relieving touchdown.

Midway through the half, Harrogate’s defence went offside and Silver’s penalty extended the home lead at 18-5.

Players from both sides had been warned for infringements round the breakdown but, unfortunately, it was Harrogate’s Willem Enslin who was eventually dispatched to the sin-bin and this proved to be the turning point of the match.

Silver kicked the resulting penalty from this offence and, shortly afterwards, Harrogate’s seve-man scrum was further penalised. This led to an attacking Luctonians line-out from which they chipped through and winger Will Hodnett won the chase, extending the hosts’advantage at 28-5.

More pressure on Harrogate’s line followed and a quickly taken penalty led to centre, Alex Smith scoring another converted try.

Restored to 15 players, Harrogate continued to try to salvage something from the game.

Morgan set up counter-attacks from deep, and replacement scrum-half Paddy Hebblethwaite linked well with Enslin and Jake Brady - continuing his comeback from injury - but the home defence held out.

Harrogate RUFC: Morgan, Barnard, Edwards, Minikin, Rosillo, Doherty, Matthews, Ward, Maycock, Dennis, J Brady, S Brady, J Coser, Yorke, Enslin.

Replacements: Nesbitt, Peace, N Smith, Davies, Hebblethwaite.