Delight for Doherty as Harrogate RUFC shine on the road at Kendal
Harrogate RUFC's director of rugby Dave Doherty felt that his team produced "one of their best performances of the season" as they won at Kendal.
Following an attritional opening half that saw the scores locked at 3-3, the Aces pulled clear after the break, climbing up one place to third in the North Premier standings.
"Kendal is a challenging place to go. They will turn good sides over this season, so to play so well and come away with the win is very, very pleasing," Doherty reflected.
"This was one of our best performances of the season. We were in control for a big part of the game and didn't come under pressure very often, particularly in the second half.
"The first 40 was attritional. They had a plan at the rucks to make a nuisance of themselves which meant we either got slow ball or a penalty and, as a result, we couldn't get our backs into the game as much as we would have liked.
"In the second half, our possession told. They'd had to do a lot of defending, so gaps started to appear. We managed to get quicker ball and the accuracy of our passing released our outside backs to do the damage.
"We were extremely unlucky to get pulled back not once, but twice, when we would have a fourth try for the bonus point, but the boys couldn't have given much more."
Harrogate took an early lead in Saturday's contest from a Nathan Wyman penalty kick after Kendal’s defence went offside.
The scrums were evenly contested, but the visiting pack were increasingly dominant elsewhere and a line-out steal by the colossal Sam Brady set up waves of attacks.
A knock-on decision led to a Kendal scrum, from which they launched a flowing backs raid, but winger Nick Charlton couldn't gather what would have been a scoring pass.
The hosts then went offside at the breakdown, though the penalty was reversed because of alleged 'Gate contact with a home player’s face and Chris Park’s kick levelled the scores.
The Kendal defence then held out against prolonged Aces attacks with the impressive Andy Boyde’s telling off-loads increasing the pressure.
The ball was eventually spun quickly left and a try seemed certain, however the visitors were penalised for crossing.
Oli Rosillo then gathered a long clearance kick under pressure and launched a counter-attack from deep.
Andrew Lawson supported well and a touchdown again appeared to be on the cards, only for referee Matt Riley to halt play because of a leg injury to a Kendal player.
The pressure continued and, in the last move of the half, Harrogate did make it over the whitewash, though the ball was adjudged to have been held up.
From the re-start, James Millington, Tim Heaton and Martin Dodds combined well to turn the ball over.
The North Yorkshiremen were forced into touch from the resulting attack, but Brady stole Kendal line-out ball once more and 'Gate were back on the offensive.
Kendal were then caught offside and Wyman’s kick made the score 6-3.
Kendal’s Dino Nyo counter-attacked from deep, however his line kick was gathered and the ball was quickly recycled to Harry Jukes whose pace took him clear for a fine 30-metre touchdown.
Unfortunately for him, he sustained a shoulder injury in the process of scoring and had to leave the field to be replaced by Harry Barnard.
Another Harrogate 'score' was disallowed when Barnard gathered a well-judged Luke Riddell attacking chip and sprinted 30 metres to touch down, the referee waiting until after the event to decide that the visiting man had been in front of the kicker and awarding Kendal a penalty.
Undeterred, Aarin Yorke won good turnover ball to launch a Harrogate counter-raid but, for the second time in the game, Mr Riley stopped play because of a lower limb injury to a home player.
Lawson then made a searing burst after creative Harrogate back play and chipped ahead, Wyman winning the chase to score, convert and put his side 18-3 ahead.
The same two players combined to create Harrogate’s next try in the right corner.
The duo were momentarily held up, but Danny Matthews capped a fine scrum-half performance by arriving in support to add a finishing touch.
Wyman’s touchline conversion made it 25-3 and, for the remaining few minutes, Harrogate strove for a fourth touchdown and the bonus point.
A Boyde burst produced good ball and Barnard again raced away to gather a chip forward and finish, however he was once more adjudged to have been in front of the kicker and the men from Rudding Lane had to settle for just the four points.
Next up for 'Gate is a home clash with Kirkby Lonsdale, 3pm kick-off at the Stratstone Stadium on Saturday.