Rugby Union: Harrogate prepare for enormous Otley occasion

Lewis Minikin carries the ball forward in Harrogate's victory over Otley in September (Photo: Richard Bown)
Lewis Minikin carries the ball forward in Harrogate's victory over Otley in September (Photo: Richard Bown)

Harrogate face a season defining clash against fierce rivals Otley on Saturday with both club’s league and cup fate on the line.

The National Two North fixture will double up as a Yorkshire Cup semi-final between the two closely-matched sides.

Harrogate currently lie one place and one point above their West Yorkshire rivals in the table and have set defending the Yorkshire Cup as their primary aim for the campaign.

The derby will be Mike Aspinall’s last in charge of Harrogate and he admitted he was relishing the prospect of watching both teams battle it out.

Aspinall said: “These are the occasions that players look forward to all season. It will be an enormous game but we feel ready for it.

"It’s going to be a pleasure to be involved in. It’s going to be a great occasion and a great game of rugby.

“Whether we win of lose, it’s not going to change the way I reflect on my time at Harrogate. I just want the guys to go out and have nothing but enjoyment.”

Harrogate beat Otley 15-10 in a tense encounter on the opening day of the season, a fixture which also marked the opening of Rudding Lane.

Both teams have gone tit for tat in the league since as they attempt to finish as the highest Yorkshire placed team in National Two North.

Otley's form has nosedived at the end of the season and they head into the match without a win in their last five league matches.

Harrogate have also had a mixed time over the last month with three wins and two defeats, but Aspinall was leaving the form books on the shelf.

The coach added: “They haven’t been on the best run of form but there’s no point in studying that as form will go out the window in this sort of fixture.”