High-flying Harrogate Ladies strengthen grip on pole position
Harrogate RUFC Ladies opened up a 12-point gap at the top of the Women's National Challenge North East One table when they cruised to an eighth consecutive victory, at Halifax.
Lucy Barnett’s side produced yet another dominant performance, scoring 17 unanswered points before half-time to take control of Sunday’s contest and then continuing to score at will during the second period.
‘Gate did not have things all their own way, however, and Halifax began the game in determined fashion, defending resolutely and causing their visitors plenty of problems at the breakdown during the first quarter of an hour.
In spite of this, Barnett’s side soon clicked into gear and got their noses in front with 20 minutes on the clock when centre Evie Jackson threw a long pass out to the wing that found the outstretched arms of Emily Rushton whose speed took her past the home defence and over the try-line.
With their forwards going through the phases, Harrogare were soon in charge of proceedings and they doubled their advantage to 10-0 inside the half-hour.
Kelly Morgan found Rose Jay with a clever inside pass and the fly-half dodged several defenders before touching down.
Halifax began to claw their way back into the contest and had their visitors pinned in their own half for a spell until scrum-half Leah Birkin exploited a gap in the Halifax line, danced past a couple of defenders and made a burst deep into home territory.
She was caught by a defender just short of the try-line, yet managed to apply the finishing touch by reaching over the whitewash and placing the ball down.
Centre Morgan kicked over the extras to make the score 17-0 at the interval.
Both sides enjoyed decent periods of possession at the start of the second period, but after 15 minutes of stalemate, ‘Gate managed to add to their tally.
Pressure was applied to the home defence andMorgan dived over the line, benefiting from some quick passing from the hands of Birkin and Jay.
Full-back Evie Tonkin added the conversion to bring the scoreline to 24-0.
Halifax kicked long from the re-start, but with fresh legs on the pitch Harrogate were soon back in opposition territory.
Jackson turned the ball over at a ruck wide on the left flank before hooker Maisie Barnett carriedit forwards.
The backs then moved it through the hands allowing second row Jessica Weston to put her head down and draw in a cluster of defenders before offloading to wing Simone Christopher who finished well.
Halifax managed to grab a late consolation score, but ‘Gate were to have the last say as 17-year-old Achele Agada showed great power and pace to run in another try from near halfway, Tonkin kicking the extras to round things off.