Harrogate Pythons stay in touch at the top following narrowest of wins over Leeds Modernians
Harrogate Pythons kept pace with Yorkshire Three leaders Wensleydale after seeing off struggling Leeds Modernians by the narrowest of margins.
Dan Bird's team made hard work of Saturday's clash with the division's bottom side, edging home by a 9-8 scoreline at Station View.
The match began well for 'Gate, who took the first Mods scrum against the head before a long-range kick at goal by Tom Breakwell fell just short.
With the returning Richard Paterson having an immediate effect, the visitors were forced into conceding another penalty in the red zone, and were this time issued with a yellow card.
Breakwell stepped up once again and this time slotted between the posts for 3-0 in the ninth minute.
The Mods responded well and were only denied the game's first try when Luke Price-Gerrard held a visiting player up over the goal-line.
Then, with the home front row of Steve Smith, Dan Shortman and Nathan Wake causing their opponents problems in the scrum, Mods conceded another penalty and Breakwell increased the lead to 6-0 after 23 minutes.
The first period ended with the Pythons struggling to generate any further forward momentum due to a series of knock-ons and forward passes.
Hugh Tatlow was then sin-binned after getting trapped on the wrong side of a ruck, but the 'Gate pack managed to disrupt the resulting scrum, leaving the half-time score at 6-0.
Bird’s men started the second period strongly, with a good run from full-back Matt Audsley taken on by Paterson, though the hosts’ progress was again halted by a knock-on.
An attacking Mods scrum then led to the away team applying some pressure to the home line. Dan Bird, Ram Ismail and Steve Lennox responded with some ferocious tackling before the referee awarded Mods a penalty which was kicked to narrow the gap at 6-3.
Play quickly shifted to the other end of the field where Jon Pickard made ground and linked well with Liam Kernoghan, who put Tatlow away.
The move was carried on by Wake, but came to an end following yet another knock-on.
A subsequent Wake run then led to the Leeds outfit being penalised at the breakdown and Breakwell restored his side’s six-point cushion with a well-struck penalty on the hour-mark.
The Pythons continued to press, however a loose kick was picked up by the Mods full-back and he started a move which ended with a visiting winger going over in the corner.
The conversion was missed, as was a late penalty, meaning that the home team ended the game with their narrow advantage intact.
The victory keeps 'Gate second in the table, six points behind Wensleydale, but having played a game less.
Next up for Bird and his men is a crunch clash away at third-placed Rotherham Phoenix on Saturday.
The Pythons currently sit seven points clear of Rotherham, and a win this weekend would leave them in a position of real strength as far as the division's second automatic promotion spot is concerned.