Coser's treble steers Harrogate RUFC to derby victory over Ilkley
Jonny Coser scored a hat-trick of tries as Harrogate RUFC completed a 24-17 win over derby rivals Ilkley.
Dave Doherty's men looked on course for a comfortable victory when they took a 17-5 lead before the halfway point of Saturday's North Premier fixture, however their hosts fought back to level the scores in the second period.
Coser's third touchdown of the afternoon did however prove sufficient to earn his team a bonus-point victory, edging them a touch closer to the division's one promotion play-off spot.
The match began in poor weather conditions that steadily worsened throughout.
In spite of this, both sides produced an entertaining game of rugby with the result in doubt right up until the final whistle.
Understandably, handling mistakes abounded, but 'Gate's set-piece superiority proved the key difference between the teams on the day, and in better handling conditions, the visiting backs would almost certainly have made better use of the plethora of ball won by their pack.
Harrogate opened the scoring after the ball was spread left, winger Andrew Lawson committing a defender and deftly offloading to Luke Riddell who touched down in the corner.
Their second try followed quickly when Coser powered over from a driving maul.
Cail Cookland’s touchline conversion made the score 12-0, though Ilkley responded quickly, gaining possession from a 'Gate knock-on before a scoring pass was delivered to winger Struan Connor.
The visitors were soon back on the offensive, however, and the home defence had to dig deep in the face of a prolonged period of Harrogate pressure.
Their resistance was eventually broken and prop Charley Purkiss-McEndoo burst through following an attacking line out, Coser the man in support to apply the finishing touch.
His second touchdown of the afternoon made it 17-5 and ended the first-half scoring.
The rain became heavier still in the second period, however it failed to dampen Ilkley’s spirits and they began to mount a fightback.
They secured more possession after the interval, particularly after Harrogate yellow cards handed them a numerical advantage.
A converted try moved the hosts to within five points of 'Gate and this was quickly followed by another touchdown, but the conversion attempt went wide, leaving the scores level at 17-17.
Restored to their full complement, Doherty's men got back on the front foot, a spell of pressure ending with Coser’s hat-trick try and a bonus point.
Cookland's successful conversion put the away team 24-17 ahead, and that proved enough to win the day.
The result leaves the Rudding Lane outfit fifth in the North Premier standings, but they are now just seven points shy of second-placed Billingham, whom they tackle this Saturday, away from home.