In-form Harrogate Pythons edge out Mods on their way to the summit
Harrogate Pythons took over at the top of Yorkshire Three courtesy of a hard-fought victory on the road at Leeds Modernians.
Dan Bird’s men began the day second in the table, but a fourth consecutive success win saw them leapfrog Rotherham Phoenix and seize pole position.
Ross Fallenstein missed an early shot at goal, and when ’Gate were awarded another penalty, they opted to kick to the corner.
Good play at the resulting line-out led to another Pythons penalty, but again Fallenstein was off-target.
After the Mods failed to kick a three-pointer of their own, the visitors finally broke the deadlock in the 25th minute.
Tom Everingham picked up a loose ball at speed following a burst by Matt Leach, the former storming under the posts to finish.
Andy MacKay booted over the extras for a 7-0 lead.
‘Gate were however penalised at the re-start and Mods kicked for for territory. Then, from an attacking scrum, one of the home centres cut through a gap and touched down.
A second try saw the Mods edge ahead at 12-7, and the first half ended with MacKay just failing to land a long-range penalty.
The second period began excellently for the Pythons as Fallenstein’s long re-start was gathered by Max Sharp.
Strong bursts from Nathan Wake and Dan Shortman followed before Sharp broke the line then flicked inside to the supporting Jed Carr who scored under the posts.
MacKay’s conversion restored the ‘Gate lead at 14-12.
With the hosts down to 14 men due to a yellow card, the Pythons took a scrum against the head and although Jack Clarkson was tap-tackled just short of the whitewash, Wake took possession and forced his way through a series of flimsy attempted-tackles.
That score stretched the away advantage to 19-12, but the Mods quickly trimmed the gap by kicking a penalty.
Good work by Grant Weatherston at another scrum caused panic in the home ranks and a loose pass was intercepted by Carr who raced away to score under the posts.
MacKay’s third conversion of the afternoon put the visitors in a useful position, 26-15 ahead with just a quarter of the match remaining.
The Mods raised their game during the closing stages and, from a scrum, the home stand-off sold the ‘Gate defence a dummy and scampered clear, reducing the deficit at 26-22.
The Leeds outfit continued to press, however a huge Fallenstein clearance relieved the pressure and the Pythons managed to hold out for victory.
Leading the way in Yorkshire Three sees Bird's men occupying their highest ever league position, one that they can consolidate when they tackle fellow high-flyers Thornensians at Station View on Saturday.