National Two North: Outmuscled Gate must get stronger - Aspinall

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Director of rugby Mike Aspinall admitted Harrogate needed to get stronger to compete with the top teams in National League Two North.

This Saturday, Gate welcome the side that pipped them to the National Three North title last season, Chester (kick-off 3pm).

And they are searching for a response after they were on the receiving end of a thumping when former National One side Sedgley Park put more than 50 points past them on Saturday.

Sam Bottomley and captain Jake Brady saved some face for Gate with tries but the Claro Road outfit crashed to a sorry 57-15 defeat.

“It was a bad day at the office,” said Aspinall. “Defensively we only completed 64 percent of tackles. You will never win a game doing that.

“Sedgley are the most physical team in the league and we were certainly outplayed physically.”

Aspinall says a new strength and conditioning programme will be implemented at the Claro Road club during pre-season – for players 15-years-old and up.

Asked whether Gate needed to be stronger, Aspinall said: “We 100 per cent do. We always have.

“It’s an ongoing thing. We are putting on strength and conditioning programmes throughout the club so that when young players come up, they not only have the skill, they have the physical ability to play against the top teams.

“The first team will have a long off-season lifting weights to bridge the gap with the top teams in this league.

“That’s how we can improve as a club.”

Chester lie three places above eighth-placed Gate and defeated Aspinall’s side 31-13 in December.

The West Coast outfit stole top spot off Gate in National Three North last season, and Aspinall said it remained fresh in the memory.

He added: “The players won’t need motivating on Saturday. There’s no bad blood, but there’s still a good rivalry.”