Harrogate Pythons RUFC all-but secure runners-up spot with victory at Hemsworth RUFC

Harrogate Pythons RUFC all-but secured runners-up spot in Yorkshire Three courtesy of a hard-fought 40-12 success on the road at Hemsworth.

By Rhys Howell
Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 11:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 11:26 am
Harrogate Pythons skipper Will Butler in action during Saturday's Yorkshire Three success at Hemsworth. Picture: Submitted
Harrogate Pythons skipper Will Butler in action during Saturday's Yorkshire Three success at Hemsworth. Picture: Submitted

A sensational run of 15 consecutive victories mean that Dan Bird’s team now lead the division by a single point, however have played a game more than title rivals Barnsley.

A Rugby Football Union restructure of the leagues means that it is yet to be confirmed whether two teams will be promoted into Yorkshire Two as usual, though the Pythons remain confident that this will be the case.

Now 10 points clear of third-placed Bramley Phoenix and boasting a far superior points difference with just two fixtures remaining this term it is near-enough impossible for the Station View outfit to finish any lower than second spot.

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The win which moved ‘Gate into such a strong position in terms of the race for promotion was not as straightforward as the scoreline suggests, though they were never in any danger of being turned over by their struggling hosts.

The Pythons retained possession from the kick-off and began working their way downfield. Nathan Wake and Hugh Tatlow made some useful ground, then quick hands at the breakdown fed Scott Irvine on half way.

He broke a number of tackles as he advanced down the touchline before cutting inside towards the posts and producing an outrageous side-step that took him over the try-line. Jed Carr added the extras for 7-0.

With scrum-half Andy MacKay controlling the game, runs from Wake and Jon Pickard kept ‘Gate on the front foot, then Carr spotted Harry Parrish in space, only for his pass to be deemed forwards.

A scrum was awarded to Hemsworth as a result, though the sheer power of the Pythons’ pack won them a penalty at the set-piece which Carr opted to kick, making the score 10-0.

With the hosts starved of possession, the Pythons continued to use the ball well. Tatlow carried to halfway before MacKay found Sam Beagrie, who used his pace and power to breach the opposition line and touch down for 15-0.

At another home scrum, the Hemsworth front row were all forced to stand up under pressure from the unstoppable ‘Gate pack, who drove over the ball.

This enabled Irvine to pick up and feed Max Sharp, who spotted a gap in the defence and glided over to score in the corner.

Captain Will Butler secured the ball from the kickoff, then Carr and his centres moved the ball across the field.

Great recycling from Jordan Payne and Marcus Fotherby moved successive breakdowns closer to Beagrie’s flank, where neat work from Liam Kernaghan put the latter away to make the score 25-0 at half-time.

With the Pythons needing to defend a slight slope and a not insignificant breeze during the second period, some tactical changes by the home team made their intentions clear.

Hemsworth were able to recycle the ball far more effectively after the interval, though they could not gain ground as Matt Leach and Sandy Dunlop more than matched their opposite numbers in the battle up front.

But, with the home scrum-half and fly-half linking more effectively, a well-placed kick eventually took them into the ‘Gate 22.

Hemsworth’s number nine gathered a bobbling ball and stepped through to narrow the gap at 25-7.

Some strong words under the posts from skipper Butler re-focused the Pythons’ minds and they were immediately back on the offensive.

Gaining possession from the kick-off, Calum Brook made ground down the blind-side and fed Kernaghan, who put that man Beagrie away for his hat-trick and a 30-7 advantage.

Ed Challis then gathered a loose ball, broke tackles in midfield and found Tim Evans, who released Sharp for his second score of the afternoon.

A second Hemsworth try made it 35-12 late on, however ‘Gate had the final say when quick thinking by MacKay enabled him to dart over from a ruck just five metres out.

This Saturday, Bird’s men play seventh-placed Skipton at home, then travel to fellow promotion-hopefuls Bramley on the final day of the season.