Two-try Irvine nears recall but Gate shape comes first

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Harrogate director of rugby Mike Aspinall has allayed supporters’ fears that star fly-half Callum Irvine has fallen out of favour.

Irvine made a match-winning contribution after arriving as a replacement in Saturday’s 34-27 win against Birmingham Solihull at Claro Road.

Converted scrum-half Joe Rowntree has started at 10 for Gate in their last matches. And Aspinall said that decision was purely down to team functionality.

He said: “I don’t think anyone has put more work into Callum as I have done.

“ I don’t think anyone know his potential as well as I do.

“The kid’s running ability is better than any other fly-half in the country.

“But the role of the fly half is to make the team work.

“His talent is the most obvious thing in the world. But you need to know a thing or too about rugby to see the effect the fly half has on the team.

“In Joe Rowntree we have someone that does the things that Callum does wrong.

“The role of the fly half is to make the team work and that’s what Joe does better.”

Harrogate gave a stuttering, mistake ridden performance against Birmingham Solihull but moments of classy back play gave them victory.

Harry Parrish scored Harrogate’s only first-half try with a splendid 40-yard run as they trailed the visitors 10-8.

Jake Brady, Irvine and Luke Edwards ran over as both sides matched try-for-try after the break, before Irvine’s second score with three minutes to go sealed the win.

Aspinall added: “It’s always nice to win but we would probably say that it was the worst we have played all season.

“Performance-wise, we certainly weren’t at out best but it’s always nice to be picking five league points up having not played well.

“Harry scored a great individual try and there were some fantastic line breaks from Callum.”

It was another high-scoring performance from Harrogate, and the 10th-placed Claro Roaders rank fourth in the total points scorers table with 257 from nine games.

“One might say that that team must be fuctioning quite well and their play makers are doing quite well,” quipped Aspinall.

Harrogate travel to Liverpool-side Caldy on Saturday, and Aspinall said the hosts historically held a stranglehold over his side.

Aspinall had yet to make his choice over his starting fly-half, but the tough deliberation was a welcome challenge.

And the coach has the luxury to pick from strength again.

Aspinall said: “It’s always a tasty clash against Caldy.

“I don’t like to make homage to history but we “have been known to lose out against them.

“I don’t think they are as strong as previous years.

“It’s another game we should be targeting points from.”