Harrogate RUFC chief hails 'massive win' as Aces bounce back at Rossendale
Harrogate RUFC wasted little time in putting the disappointment of a first defeat in 20 matches behind them.
Dave Doherty’s team bounced back from their home loss to North Premier title rivals Billingham last time out with a 24-16 success on the road at Rossendale.
“This was a massive win, I’m proud of the boys’ reaction,” said director of rugby Doherty.
“It was a massive banana skin going to Rossendale. It’s always very difficult and confrontational and their team was nothing like the one that they’ve been putting out in recent weeks. They had players back and were really strong.
“We had to show a lot of character and I’m very happy for the group. They really impressed me.
“Rossendale will turn a lot of teams over at their place, so going there and winning after what happened last weekend demonstrates that we do have the credentials to challenge for the league title.”
Rossendale sit second from bottom of the table following a miserable run of recent form, though they were boosted by the return of six players for Saturday’s contest, one of whom was ex-Sale Sharks and London Wasps centre Chris Mayor.
Their significantly reinforced starting XV did not begin the match like a side who had lost six on the spin, and they took the lead through Lewis Allen’s penalty kick.
‘Gate were then hit by the loss of both of their second-row forwards as Sam Brady and Tom Harvey limped from the field due to injury.
The hosts kept coming, however visiting winger Sam Parry led a break out of defence and the resulting counter-attack ended with Mason Knowles ghosting through the home defence for a well-taken try.
A Brad Cave touchdown soon had Rossendale back in front at 10-5, but a series of Harrogate driving mauls were to follow and hooker Tom Driscoll went over to level the scores.
Another driving maul was then finished off by Andy Boyde, Sam Foxadding the conversion to send the Aces into half-time 17-10 up.
In the second period, full-back Oli Rosillo scored a stunning solo try to secure a bonus point for ‘Gate, who defended resolutely to restrict Rossendale to just two Allen penalties.
“Obviously we were disappointed with the Billingham result but it is all about learning from set-backs like that,” Doherty added.
“The reason we won the second half at Rossendale even though they had the advantage of a big slope was because we were more accurate around the breakdown and managed to stop them from slowing our ball down, something we worked on last week after Billingham did it to us.
“The boys stuck to the game-plan and stuck together and that’s why we got this result.
"Winning really tough games like this is what wins you titles at the end of the season."
Saturday sees ‘Gate back on home soil, where they entertain sixth-placed Lymm, 2pm kick-off.
Last season’s meeting between the two sides at the Stratstone Stadium saw the Aces run out victorious by a 19-7 scoreline.