Siswick expects tough afternoon in derby game

Cleckheaton v Harrogate - Aarin Yorke for Harrogate
Cleckheaton v Harrogate - Aarin Yorke for Harrogate
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Harrogate team manager Graham Siswick insists the side’s recent spell of good league form will count for nothing when they host Bradford and Bingley on Saturday (kick-off 2pm).

The West Yorkshire side are Harrogate’s closest geographical rivals in National Three North, and Siswick knows normal rules do not apply in derby matches.

‘Gate are still dealing with the loss of several key players, but dug deep to secure a third straight league win with a 29-13 result at Waterloo at the weekend, to stay second.

Ahead of Saturday, Siswick said: “This is a local derby, and a lot of the players from each side know each other.

“League form will go out of the window, and the conditions are not likely to be favourable, so it is going to be a tough afternoon for sure.

“We beat them earlier in the season, and it was a game they thought they could have won, so they will come here with expectations.”

Bradford and Bingley beat Kendal 21-10 at the weekend, and sit tenth in the league.

Siswick said: “They got the win on Saturday, and have some very good players in key positions.

“We expect to win the game, but they won’t be coming without hope, and we are expecting a really tough day of work.”

On Saturday, ‘Gate rushed into a 17-3 lead early on, with Noel Minikin, Aarin Yorke and Kyle Dench all on the scoresheet, but a Waterloo penalty and try reduced the lead to 17-10 at the break.

Waterloo were putting in a determined shift, but could not upset the ‘Gate defence.

Captain Jimmy Browne had suffered a knee injury pre-match and prop Dan Metcalfe was sent to the bin, but still the defence held together.

However, the visitors conceded penalties throughout the second half to allow Waterloo to stay close behind, despite ‘Gate’s superior try-scoring efforts. Harrogate did however race ahead again towards the end, when Sam Bottomley scored after a Dench break, before Bottomley set up Minkin for his second try late on.

This try secured a bonus point for Harrogate.

Nathan Small replaced Max Lewis, who is expected to be out for the rest of the season.

Tom Harvey won man of the match for his performance in the second row, while centre Dench was praised by Siswick for his efforts.

The team manager said: “We are happy with the five points.

“It was a good performance overall, and we were generally in control. The defence was magnificent, but we gave away too many penalties.

“That gave Waterloo hope, and they rallied. It really was game on after half time.

“But we have now won three in a row, and secured three league doubles in those games.

“We are in reasonable shape, and Peter Wackett could return this month.”