Harrogate RUFC raring to go again following Covid-19-enforced postponement

Harrogate RUFC are raring to go following their Covid-19-enforced break from action.

Saturday, 16th October 2021, 11:52 am
Dave Doherty in action against Stourbridge last time they visited Harrogate RUFC, back in January 2017. Pictures: Caught Light Photography

The Aces had to rearrange last weekend’s National Two North trip to Luctonians after a member of their squad tested positive for coronavirus.

That result forced a number of other ‘Gate players into self-isolation, leaving them unable to fulfil their fixture down in Herefordshire, though director of rugby Dave Doherty has reported a near-enough clean bill of health ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Stourbridge.

“We’ve still got a number of boys with long-term injuries, who will be out until December or into the New Year, but most of the rest of our players should be okay for the weekend,” he said.

Tim Heaton in action for 'Gate during their 19-12 success over Stourbridge back in 2017.

“Everyone is available again now in terms of Covid. The boys who had to isolate will all be out of it in time to train on Thursday evening.

“It was all precautionary stuff, really. We followed the guidance from the league’s medical advisor to the letter and and now we’re ready to go again, the lads are really excited to get back out on the pitch.

“We knew that it was likely that Covid would rear it’s head and disrupt things at some point this season, it’s just a case of rolling with the punches.”

Harrogate have endured a difficult start to their first season back in National Two in four years, beginning the campaign with heavy defeats to Sedgley Park and Bournville before registering a morale-boosting 17-12 home win over Blaydon.

A severely depleted Aces side was then thrashed 80-22 at Fylde, before delivering a much-improved performance against a strong Hull Ionians last time out.

And Doherty says that his players will need to try and carry that display into their showdown with an in-form Stourbridge outfit who have won five out of five.

“We’ve had a tough run of fixtures to start the season and this is another really difficult one,” he added.

“Having watched all of Stourbridge’s matches, I believe that they are the best attacking team in this division. They are extremely sharp in the backs.

“They’re similar to Ionians in that they’re a huge threat when they get quick ball, and one of the things we did very well against them was slow things down.

"It’s important that we do that again this weekend because if we let Stourbridge get on the front foot then it’s guaranteed to to be a tough day at the office.

“The other big thing is that we make sure we keep possession long enough to test them defensively. We’ve identified areas where we think we can hurt them, but we need the ball in order to do that.

"They've won five out of five this season, but all those games have been on 4G. We need to try and ask some questions of them on a grass surface and see how they cope."