Olly Rosillo’s sudden-death try saw Harrogate RUFC to a 22-17 victory over West Leeds in Saturday’s Yorkshire Cup clash at the Stratstone Stadium.
Having appeared in the last three Junior Cup Finals at Twickenham and won two of them, West Leeds, who play their rugby a division below ‘Gate in North One East, have a well-deserved reputation as a specialist cup side.
They lived up to this reputation by scoring a last-minute equalising try and forcing the game into ‘golden shot’ extra-time, however they were eventually undone by a fine individual score by the home side’s flying winger.
Leeds took the game to a much-changed Harrogate from the start and two attacking chips narrowly went dead.
Another foray forward by the visiting backs led to yet another chip ahead which bounced just right for winger Danny Booth to gather and score a touchdown converted by Dale Breakwell.
Harrogate were stung into response and mounted a string of attacks, though Leeds still looked dangerous on the counter.
Eventually, Rosillo side-stepped the defence and turned on the after-burners to scorch over for the hosts’ first try of the day, converted by Luke Riddell for 7-7.
The home pressure continued and was intensified after a Leeds ruck offence saw a yellow card produced by the referee.
Harry Barnard made a very welcome return in the centre after a long illness absence and a strong 45-metre run showed that the Harrogate man had lost none of his strength and pace, though he was tackled just short of the goal-line.
A well-controlled driving maul followed, however, and Guy Coser touched down to make the score 12-7 at the interval.
Strong words had obviously been spoken at half-time and Harrogate attacked concertedly from the re-start.
Desperate Leeds defence led to a breakdown offence and, soon after they’d been restored to 15 players, Dan Baxter was despatched to the sin-bin.
An attacking line-out followed the penalty and another driving maul led to Coser’s second touchdown of the afternoon.
The next score was a Leeds penalty after they’d stolen Harrogate line-out ball, and trailing by just a converted try at 17-10, they continued to attack at every opportunity.
Home skipper Danny Matthews came off the bench to add stability and a great clearance kick thwarted another visiting attack.
However, the away side continued to throw everything they could at Harrogate and, on the stroke of the final whistle, a converted Rian Hoey try took the game into sudden-death extra -ime.
Stung by this situation, the Aces finally started to play to something like their normal standard.
Lock Sam Brady raised his game by several degrees to dominate the forward exchanges and Dave Doherty came back off the bench to add a different dimension to the home attack.
However, a narrowly missed West Leeds drop goal attempt would have won them the game for the visiting team, before ‘Gate responded with their own attempt, which barely got six inches off the ground.
Dohertyy’s men came again though and another scintillating Rosillo try ended the match, the sudden-death regulation meaning that no conversion was attempted.