Harrogate Pythons RUFC narrow gap at the top courtesy of demolition of Ossett RUFC

Harrogate Pythons moved to within a point of Yorkshire Three leaders Barnsley courtesy of Saturday’s 67-0 thrashing of Ossett.

By Rhys Howell
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 11:28 am
Matt Leach powers towards the try-line during Harrogate Pythons RUFC’s Yorkshire Three demolition of Ossett. Picture: Submitted
Matt Leach powers towards the try-line during Harrogate Pythons RUFC’s Yorkshire Three demolition of Ossett. Picture: Submitted

Dan Bird’s in-form side ran in 11 unanswered tries during what was another fine display, securing a 13th consecutive victory.

And although they have now played a game more than top-of-the-table Barnsley, the Station View outfit remain nine points ahead of third-placed Bramley, their only genuine rivals for runners-up spot.

The Pythons kicked-off and Ossett began to build some phases with clean, secure ball.

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That was until Scott Irvine stripped an opponent and charged over the try-line from 40 metres out, Will Clough adding the extras for 7-0 after four minutes.

Ossett built some pressure once again from the kick-off, forcing Jon Pickard, Hugh Tatlow and Sam Beagrie into defensive action.

The home team’s inside centre made valuable ground with some hard running and gained a penalty. An accurate kick gave the hosts a five-metre line-out, forcing Pickard and Jed Carr to defend well.

A sequence of penalties, scrums and line-outs follow on the Python’s five-metre line, however they eventually won a penalty at the breakdown and Carr was able to clear to halfway.

Tatlow secured the resulting line out, Carr fed Will Butler and he drove deep into home territory.

Some 15 metres out, Clough found Max Sharp, who was pulled down just short, only to stretch out his arm and place the ball on the line for 12-0 on 16 mins.

Ossett were quickly back on the offensive from the kick-off. A number of drives followed and ‘Gate were penalised in the ‘red zone’ for playing the ball on the ground, leading to one of their number being sin-binned.

Nathan Wake and Irvine kept the tackle-count high, continuing to frustrate the home team, until the referee blew up for a high-tackle and the Pythons received a second yellow card, reducing them to 13 men.

Ossett sensed an opportunity to get themselves on the scoreboard and kept the pressure on.

Matt Leach, Tatlow and Marcus Fotherby worked hard to keep the visitors’ defensive line in tact, however another high tackle saw the away team shown a third yellow card.

Down to 12 men and with Ossett moving the ball quickly, Clough made a superb tackle, denying the home winger a certain try by forcing his foot into touch.

Fotherby secured the line-out which followed and, against the odds, the men from Station View escaped unscathed, taking the play into the opposition half.

A penalty at a maul followed and Carr kicked for touch. With the ball expertly secured at the resulting line-out, another good kick by Carr kept ‘Gate on the front foot.

Secure ball at the line-out then enabled Carr to feed Sharp, who found Clough, who offloaded to Irvine to power over the whitewash.

Clough booted over the extras to put the depleted Pythons 19-0 ahead with half-an-hour gone.

Ossett gathered the ball from the kick-off and once again went about trying to make some inroads, however Wake stole the ball and moved it on to Beagrie, some 60 metres ut.

Undeterred by the amount of space between him and the try-line, he beat three defenders and touched down under the posts. Clough once again kicked the conversion to open up a 26-point gap in the 33rd minute.

From the kick-off, Carr got the Pythons straight back on the offensive, making 40 metres before Wake kept up the pressure and fed Leach, who was deemed to be held up over the line.

The Pythons moved the ball quickly from the resulting scrum, James Audsley-Beck was tackled short, but the ever- present Beagrie scooped the ball up to jink over and make it 31-0 at the interval.

The Pythons were immediately back into their stride at the start of the second period, Harry Parrish gathering the ball and feeding Beagrie, who outpaced the defence as he ran from close to halfway and dived over in the corner.

Once again, the home team began to ask some questions of the Pythons with some impressive phase play, only for a shuddering tackle from Nino Cutino to halt them in their tracks.

Jordan Payne secured the ball and set up another ‘Gate raid, one which ended with a perfectly-weighted kick from Carr putting Parrish over in the corner for 43-0 in the 45th minute.

Andy MacKay then broke down the blindside from a Pythons scrum and the ball was moved quickly through the hands to Beagrie on half way.

He ran clear once again and dived under the posts for his fourth try of the afternoon, Clough converting for 50-0 on 50 minutes.

Ossett won a scrum from the kick-off, but, under massive pressure from the away pack, Payne claimed the ball as it bobbled around and passed to Audsley-Beck, who made 30 metres before putting Clough away. Tackled short, he followed Sharp’s earlier example and extended his arm to put Bird’s men 55-0 ahead.

A massive clearance kick by MacKay then gave the home team a line-out on halfway. ‘Gate won the ball but then knocked-on, giving Ossett a scrum.

The Pythons’ dominant pack would however drive their hosts off the ball, allowing Irvine to pick up and find Sharp, who beat two defenders to finish in the corner.

The final try of the afternoon arrived late on after Parrish broke down the line and was tackled on the home 22.

Pickard was the quickest to the breakdown and he then located Irvine, who muscles over the whitewash.

Another Clough two-pointer made the final score 67-0.

The Pythons host Sheffield Medicals this Saturday, 3pm kick-off at the Jim Saynor Ground, Station View.

Meanwhile, Harrogate Pythons' 2nd XV, the Pirates, played a home league game against Ripon 2nds at the weekend and won 34-19.