Harrogate RUFC 'send a message' to play-off rivals after stunning champions Hull RUFC
A dramatic last-minute try saw Harrogate RUFC end North Premier champions Hull’s long winning run, boosting their own hopes of promotion in the process.
The East Yorkshiremen wrapped up the title last weekend following a 21st consecutive league victory, though they came unstuck at Rudding Lane on Saturday as Dave Doherty’s troops dug deeper than deep to register a 21-17 success.
“It’s one of the best results we’ve had since I’ve been at Harrogate, I’m absolutely delighted,” Doherty reflected.
“To beat top of the league with a try from the last play of the game when so much went against us on the day, it doesn’t get much better than that.
“We were playing in front of a packed crowd and you could see how much the win meant to both the supporters, the players and everyone involved at the final whistle.
“Hull are a very good team, with so much power and a number of boys who could be playing at professional level, so it was lovely to beat them, and the way that we did it just made the victory all the sweeter.”
Already missing key players Jonny Coser and Sam Fox, ‘Gate then lost the services of full-back Oli Rosillo and centre Nathan Wyman during the course of the game.
They were also on the receiving end of a number of dubious refereeing decisions, yet took a 14-10 lead into the closing stages of the contest courtesy of tries from Wyman and Andrew Lawson.
With time almost up, Hull were then awarded a second controversial penalty try that saw them seemingly snatch victory at 17-14.
Undeterred, and despite all that had gone against them during the previous 79 minutes, ‘Gate launched one last attack, which ended with Andy Boyde powering over the whitewash to decide matters.
“I think that the difference in the end was probably our team spirit," Doherty added.
“Hull are probably a stone per man heavier than us across the park and they had the physical edge over us, but we are so tight as a unit.
“With the injuries and all the other things that happened, it felt like everything was going against us, and I think that narrative actually helped us and spurred us on.
"The boys showed a lot of character to twice come from behind. Even when Hull scored so late in the game we kept going and found a way to get the win."
Despite their victory, 'Gate slip one place to fourth in the North Premier standings, though their promotion rivals Blaydon and Billingham will have been counting on the men from Rudding Lane losing ground on Saturday given Hull's incredible form.
The Aces are level on points with Billingham and just one behind Blaydon (2nd) in the extremely tight, three-way battle for the division's solitary play-off berth.
"We said before the game that we had to beat Hull if we were serious about finishing second, and we've gone and done that, so we're still in a good position," Doherty said.
"It's a massive win and one that I think will send a message out to the rest of the division.
"We've got three games to go, and we're just focusing on trying to get five points from each of them and seeing where we end up.
"It is however a tough run-in. Lymm isn't an easy place to go, Ilkley are a better side this time of year when the ground gets harder and Sandal are in great form and have been putting a lot of points on sides.
"It's going to be a real challenge, but we're really looking forward to it."