Harrogate RUFC Ladies get off to a flyer in season-opener at Loughborough

Harrogate RUFC Ladies kicked-off the 2019/20 with a 74-0 win. Picture: Richard Bown
Harrogate RUFC Ladies kicked-off the 2019/20 with a 74-0 win. Picture: Richard Bown

Following their unbeaten league run and promotion via the play-offs last term, Harrogate RUFC Ladies kicked-off their first-ever season playing in the second tier of English rugby on Sunday.

And Lucy Barnett’s team picked up where they left off, thrashing Loughborough Town 74-0 on their Championship North One debut.

It took eight minutes for Harrogate to make the first of many crosses over the whitewash, debutant prop Laura French crashing over the line, full-back Lauren Bolger converting.

Soon captain Rose Jay and Bolger were back to their old ways as they used their speed and footwork to make it 19-0.

Then centre Alex Wallace added an impressive individual try to the mix, which she took from 80 metres out.

Linking up in the back line, Sarah Foster and Nieve Jones set Wallace up for a second converted try.

Bolger and winger Emily Rushton, upon her return from injury, also crossed over to see their team set for a comfortable 52-0 lead at the break.

After the interval, Harrogate stole Loughborough’s ball at the line-out then set Jones off up the pitch with support from debutant Rianna Manson who finished off by touching down over the line.

Second row Annie Lyles, prop Amber Barnicoat and Wallace extended Harrogate’s lead, adding another 17 points.

Players of the match were flanker Amy Battel, Jay and Foster.

Harrogate’s 2nd XV lost out 50-29 in their first-ever league appearance, at Littleborough.

For the first 10 minutes Harrogate put up strong displays in both defence and attack, however, it was Littleborough who led 19-0 after the first quarter with it looking like no return for Harrogate.

However, Harrogate then settled into the game suddenly with a show of smart hands along the line and clever play by scrum-half Freya Wilde.

The latter kicked over the top of the defence and allowed captain Sarah Jayne Pritchard to chase and touch down.

Littleborough retaliated though, with another try making it 24-5.

Harrogate put the work in defensively, showing some impressive tackles but the opposition managed to slip through and score another.

With half-time creeping closer there was just time for centre Caroline Cockshott to receive the ball on the wide right, take advantage of the overlap and score.

Harrogate were the dominant side when play resumed.

Izzy Harris crossed the whitewash next with support from Lauren Gant, Wilde and full-back Olivia Almond.

Soon to follow was a try from Wilde, who kicked the extras as well to make it 29-22.

The visitors put another past Littleborough when Almond took on a full pitch sprint with ease, finishing off with a dive over the line. Wilde again kicked over the extras to make it 29-29, as the teams entered the last quarter.

Though a Littleborough forward was sent off for a high tackle, Harrogate were unable to take advantage of the overlap.

When the opposition player returned from the sin-bin they were more united than ever, and Harrogate struggled to keep up with their new found pace.

Littleborough managed to put three more converted tries past Harrogate to extended their lead.

Player of the match performances were awarded to Sammie Wilcox, Wilde and Almond.

This Sunday sees the 1st XV host Lichfield and the 2nd XV entertain Oldham, both games kicking off 2.30pm, with all spectators welcome to the Stratstone Stadium.