'Gate bounce back with bonus-point triumph at Rossendale
Harrogate RUFC bounced back from the disappointment of last weekend's Northern Premier defeat to Billingham when they won on the road at Rossendale.
Dave Doherty's side produced an excellent performance to see off their fellow promotion-hopefuls, outscoring them by five tries to two and collecting a bonus point in the process.
With dynamic flanker James Dyson at the heart of all that was good about their play, the Aces' forwards provided consistently good ball for their backs, who, at times, ran the hosts ragged with some exhilarating rugby.
'Gate full-back Luke Riddell attacked from the kick-off and when the Rossendale defence went offside the visitors were awarded and early shot at goal, however the kick went wide.
The men from Rudding Lane weren’t to be denied, though, and from a great Andy Boyde turnover, the ball was spread wide where Dyson was in support to finish off.
Home forays forward were largely nullified by Harrogate’s pressure defence and a big Harry Barnard break almost led to a second score, but the ball was held up over the try-line.
Further visiting attacks forced the Rossendale defence to go offside again, but 'Gate dissent resulted in the penalty being reversed and Tom Leader’s kick opened the home side's account.
The North Yorkshiremen's hitherto dominant scrum then conceded a strike against the head and the ball was cleared, but Sam Brady drove strongly to set up a counter-attack.
Centre Nathan Wyman burst through the Rossendale defence, and although he was held up short of the line, the ball was recycled for Tom Larder to drive over to register a try converted by Wyman.
The first half ended with Doherty's men continuing to take the game to the Lancastrians.
From a Dyson break, Barnard chipped ahead and the Rossendale clearance led to a Harrogate line-out.
From there, the visiting pack got a drive going with Martin Dodds, Brady and Dyson powering through the home defence.
Wyman then carried on the attack, and, when his run was checked, Dyson was in support to dot down and make the score 17-3 at the break.
It was a case of more of the same at the start of the second period and some scintillating Harrogate raids had the home defence at full stretch with Dyson, Brady, Wyman, Larder and Danny Matthews all featuring prominently.
Andrew Lawson went on to finish off a neat backs move, but the 'try' was disallowed following a forward pass.
Undeterred, 'Gate earned themselves an attacking scrum from which the ball was quickly shipped to Riddell whose half-break led to a touchdown for Luke Edwards.
A physically competitive period of play followed.
Rossendale pressure forced Harrogate to go offside and concede a penalty, but some violent play led to the penalty being reversed and Jacob Kane was dispatched to the sin-bin.
However, while still down to 14 men, the hosts managed to generate some forward momentum and hooker Phil Mills burst through to reduce the arrears.
The home defence then had to hold out following sustained Harrogate pressure until, shortly after Kane’s return, another dust-up led to Brady taking a turn to visit the sin-bin.
Soon afterwards, a Rossendale attack ended with a knock-on but 'Gate's seven-man scrum held firm and the ball was cleared.
A searing 60-metre Barnard break then took him through the home defence and he finished it with a devastating side-step which left the home full-back for dead.
The Aces' fifth try of the afternoon was then converted by Riddell.
In the closing stages, a handling error gifted Rossendale possession and flanker Rob Bramhall grabbed the game’s final touchdown, but the visitors had already done more than enough.