Harrogate Pythons go second in the table courtesy of home win over Castleford RUFC
Harrogate Pythons moved up to second place in Yorkshire Three after beating Castleford 20-14 at Station View.
Dan Bird’s men made a positive start to Saturday’s contest, getting their noses in front as early as the 11th minute.
Ball off the top of a line-out from Dan Shortman to Ned Rutty saw the ‘Gate scrum-half duck under an advancing defender on halfway then step his way into the clear.
He swerved outside Castleford's winger and cut back to beat the covering full-back for a fine try by the posts.
Tom Breakwell added the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
With the Pythons front row of Nathan Wake, Sandy Dunlop and Jack O’Hara more than holding their own against their hefty opposite numbers, they managed to force the visitors into conceding a penalty on their own 10-metre line.
Breakwell stepped up to calmly slot between the uprights, making it 10-0 after a quarter of an hour.
Castleford then upped their game, but Bird’s men remained resolute in defence.
A high tackle resulted in the visiting scrum-half being yellow-carded, however despite their numerical disadvantage, the away team got their first try of the day after turning over a home line-out and spreading the ball wide.
A fracas ensued, which led to a second Castleford player being sent to the sin-bin, and Breakwell kicked another penalty against the 13 men to send his side into the interval with a 13-7 advantage.
Castleford began the second period strongly, putting the ‘Gate defence under more pressure.
There was however no change in the scoreline until 10 minutes before full-time, and it was the Pythons who struck.
Rutty broke from a scrum and linked with Matt Halpin, who raced away from the visiting defence.
The ball was recycled quickly and ‘Gate went through several phases before Breakwell put a grubber kick behind the onrushing defensive line for Halpin to win the race for the touchdown.
Breakwell then added the extras for 20-7.
The West Yorkshiremen responded well and eventually their pressure told as they forced their way over in the corner for a converted try, closing the gap at 20-14 with just two minutes remaining.
Castleford came again in the closing moments, but the Pythons managed to hold out for a victory that lifts them into their highest ever league position.