Harrogate RUFC pass toughest test to date as Macclesfield are seen off

Sam Brady scored a late try as Harrogate RUFC beat Macclesfield at Rudding Lane. Picture: Richard Bown
Sam Brady scored a late try as Harrogate RUFC beat Macclesfield at Rudding Lane. Picture: Richard Bown

Dave Doherty felt that his Harrogate RUFC side passed their most difficult test of the season to date when they edged out Macclesfield at Rudding Lane.

In an extremely close North Premier encounter that ebbed and flowed, the Aces eventually manage to grind out an 18-13 victory against a team who played their rugby in National One as recently as 2017 and were only relegated from National Two North last term.

"It was a really, really tight game against a strong Macclesfield side who still have a number of players from when they were a National One team," reflected 'Gate's director of rugby.

"They posed a real threat and certainly challenged us the most of all the sides we've played this season. They were a lot bigger than us and had plenty of power and experience in their front five.

"They were dominant in certain areas, particularly in the scrum during the first half, but the pleasing thing for me was that our players reacted to this and eventually managed to find a way to negate what our opponents were doing.

"Our defence, our willingness to work for each other and the resilience we showed once again was fantastic. There was a 15-minute spell in the second half where everything seemed to be going Macclesfield's way, however we managed to wrestle back the momentum and find a way to go on and win the game.

"They looked very vulnerable when we had the ball in hand, but it was still a backs-against-the-wall performance and they're the most satisfying kind of wins. This was a really important result for us against a side who will be right up there this season."

Sam Fox kicked 'Gate into an early 3-0 lead before Macclesfield hit back, making the most of their scrum superiority when number eight Jordan Simpson picked up from the base five metres out and burst over the try-line.

A second Fox penalty trimmed the gap to 7-6 before some flowing rugby saw the hosts re-claim the ascendancy on 26 minutes, Sam Parry in support of Oli Rosillo's line-break to apply a finishing touch against his former club.

Macclesfield landed a three-pointer of their own shortly before half-time and another successful kick at goal saw the visitors edge into a 13-11 lead with around a quarter of an hour remaining, however 'Gate were to have the final say.

A spell of pressure ended with big second row Sam Brady powering over in the corner after 72 minutes and Fox's excellent conversion wrapped things up at 18-13.

Victory leaves Doherty's men second in the North Premier standings, four points behind leaders Billingham but having played a game less.

Next up is a trip to newly-promoted Blackburn, who currently sit in sixth position having won three and lost two of their opening five fixtures.