'˜Gate round off 2017/18 with home win over Pocklington
Harrogate RUFC wrapped up their 2017/18 National Three North campaign with a comfortable victory over rock-bottom Pocklington.
Dave Doherty’s side had already secured a third-placed finish but made sure that ended the season in style, running in seven tries.
In a game that had to be played at the Army Foundation College due to the club’s junior festival taking place at the Stratstone Stadium, some loose play led to ‘Gate conceding an early penalty which Christian Pollock kicked to hand Pocklington a 3-0 lead.
Thereafter, until the final 10 minutes, it was all Harrogate as they ran riot and raced into a 43-3 lead.
Then, two yellow cards saw the hosts reduced to 13 men and they conceded two tries plus a penalty-try, which added some respectability scoreline as far as the already-relegated visitors were concerned.
Having fallen behind, sustained home attacks followed and, after a series of driving mauls, scrum-half Danny Matthews darted over in the corner to score.
Debutant winger Connor Miller, captain of Harrogate’s colts team, played exceptionally well throughout and it was he who registered his side’s second touchdown.
Pocklington were penalised, Doherty’s men opted for another scrum, and the ball was quickly spread for the youngster to outpace the defence and finish.
‘Gate’s next try came from attacking play inside their own 22. Jonny Coser made the initial break and Keane Naylor scythed through the midfield.
Tight-head prop Connor Ward then ploughed through the away defence and Andy Boyde was in support to apply the finishing touch for a 15-3 advantage.
As half-time approached, Boyde further distinguished himself by being yellow -arded for the first (and last) time this season.
The Harrogate pressure continued after the interval and Naylor produced an attacking grubber kick following a strong break.
Pocklington attempted to counter from a defensive line-out but a strong Connor Miller tackle ended the move.
From turnover ball, Matthews broke strongly and found replacement centre Noel Minikin, making a very welcome appearance after a long injury lay-off, and his attacking skills set up Matt Landsall for Harrogate’s fourth try which was converted from the touchline by Sam Fox.
A series of well-controlled ‘Gate driving mauls then led to some desperate Pocklington defence and a yellow card for a visiting player before Matthews went over out wide for a score converted by Fox for 29-3.
Home raids out of defence then led to two almost identical converted tries from Euan Miller and then Naylor, moving the Rudding Lane outfit into a commanding 43-3 lead.
Coser was then sin-binned and the visitors’ outstanding full-back Pollock quickly took advantage of the extra space to score a try that he converted himself.
Soon afterwards, a Pocklington driving maul was halted illegally and a penalty-try was awarded, Tim Heaton joined Coser in the bin and Harrogate were reduced to 13 men.
Then, in the final move of the match, Pocklington turnover ball was quickly passed to Pollock who scored another fine converted try to reduce the arrears further.