Dominant second-half showing carries Harrogate RUFC to Wilmslow success
Harrogate RUFC scored 45 unanswered points in a devastating second-half display as they recovered from a poor start to beat Wilmslow at Rudding Lane.
Dave Doherty's side found themselves trailing their workmanlike visitors 12-5 at the interval, but were much-improved after the resumption and eventually ran out 50-12 winners to move to within three points of the North Premier Division summit.
Wilmslow kicked off against a strong wind, 'Gate immediately knocked-on, and, from a home perspective, what followed were 40 minutes of terrible rugby.
The away team's first score followed an attacking line-out after Harrogate had been penalised, number eight Alex Taylor finishing off a driving maul.
At this stage, the Aces were second best in almost every department, including scrummaging, with no sign of the visiting pressure subsiding.
Luke Edwards was yellow-carded for a high tackle but the home defence managed to cope with continued Wilmslow dominance during his absence.
Just before Edwards was due to return to the fray, Andy Boyde joined him in the sin-bin, however Oli Rosillo made a searing break from defence and Tim Heaton was in support to level the scores at 5-5 with a try in the right corner.
With Boyde about to make his way back on to the pitch, further Wilmslow pressing led to a touchdown for second row Mike Clifford, converted by Bob McCallum.
Stung by this, 'Gate finally began to show, lock Liam Hucknall making some strong runs while backs Andrew Lawson and Nathan Wyman posed a constant threat.
The pressure on the Wilmslow was relieved when scrum-half Sean Street gathered a loose ball and ran almost the length of the field before being forced into touch.
Then came the second-half transformation.
Shortly after the resumption, the visitors went offside after prolonged home attacks and Aarin Yorke scored from a driving maul following an attacking line-out.
The Wilmslow re-start kick went straight into touch, indicative of the pressure they were under, then a powerful Harrogate scrum saw the home pack force their way over the away line, but the 'try' was disallowed by referee Elliott Lewis.
Undeterred, hosts winger Harry Jukes gathered a clearance kick and his pace took him past several defenders before Lawson arrived in support to add the finishing touch.
Wyman’s conversion put Harrogate ahead for the first time in the game at 17-12.
A half-break by Boyde then created space for Edwards to exploit, the latter offloading to Wyman to do the honours and register another converted try.
Wilmslow counter-attacked but, from a Harrogate turnover, the ball was released to Lawson who broke the cover and provided a scoring pass for Rosillo.
With forwards and backs combining well, the away side were stretched further, while 'Gate were also dominating the set-pieces.
Unsurprisingly, three more tries followed, the first of which stemmed from a midfield interception by Lawson that led to him breaking the cover and touching down under the posts, Wyman converting.
Penetrative drives by replacement Richard Bland then set up to a converted score for outstanding back row forward James Millington as Harrogate pulled well clear.
In the final move of the match, a skilful interchange of passes between Jukes and scrum-half Danny Matthews allowed the latter to round things off at 50-12.
The result leaves Doherty and his men fourth in the league standings ahead of this Saturday's trip to struggling Kendal.