Harrogate Pythons RUFC unable to build on maiden victory as they lose out at Bradford Salem RFC
Dan Bird’s men got up and running for 2023/24 with a fine home win over Beverley in their previous outing, but suffered a 36-22 loss on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors were first on the scoreboard when their forward pack destroyed Salem in the first scrum of what was a closely-fought affair.
Will Clough slotted the resulting penalty for a 3-0 lead after five minutes, however Salem responded quickly and crossed the try-line twice to take a 12-3 lead.
The Pythons soon hit back, Jed Carr feeding Hugh Tatlow, who broke through the home defence to touch down from 40 metres out.
Clough added the resulting conversion to narrow the gap at 12-10, but shortly afterwards ‘Gate lost a second member of their front row to injury, meaning that uncontested scrums would take place for the remainder of the contest.
And Salem took full advantage, scoring two tries in quick succession either side of half-time to surge into a 36-10 lead.
Undeterred, the Pythons began to pile on the pressure and from a quickly-taken Clough penalty, Carr put Sam Rowntree over in the corner for 36 -15.
The away side kept on coming and although both Ed Challis and Tim Evans were stopped short of the whitewash, quickly-recycled ball enabled Marcus Fotherby to dive over next to the posts, with Clough then adding extras.
Desperate for a fourth try and the bonus points that would earn them, the Pythons continued to turn the screw, forcing Salem to concede a series of penalties as one of their number was sent to the sin-bin.
But the full-time whistle was blown before the visitors could make it over the line again.
“This result really didn’t feel like a fair reflection of the contest,” Pythons head coach Bird reflected.
"Once again our pack dominated at scrum time and this gave us a great platform during the first 20 minutes, so clearly the work the lads put in during the off-season is really paying off.
"We continue to show glimpses of great continuity in attack but all too often we are doing this in the wrong areas of the pitch, amplifying pressure on transition.”
This Saturday, the Pythons entertain Pocklington, 3pm kick-off.