Harrogate RUFC visit high-flying Fylde RFC with plenty to be positive about following first victory
Harrogate RUFC claiming their first win of the season wasn’t the only positive that Dave Doherty was able to take away from Saturday’s National Two North showdown with Blaydon.
Following two heavy defeats to start life back in the division, the injury-ravaged Aces recorded a much-needed 17-12 victory over their visitors from Tyne & Wear.
With the club missing 34 senior players across their 1st and 2nd XVs, Doherty was forced to make a raft of changes to both sides, yet still ended the weekend celebrating two successes.
And he believes that the experience of winning under such difficult circumstances, and the exposure to 1st XV rugby for those forced to step up will prove invaluable in the future.
“We had so much disruption going into this game with injuries and unavailability that even on Friday night we didn’t know what the team we would be putting out,” Harrogate’s director of rugby said.
“But I’m so proud of the boys. They showed such courage to get that result and it will be really, really good for the squad as a whole.
“Lads have to be ready to take their opportunities when they get them and they all stepped up on Saturday. The experience of winning that game, of remaining resolute and not letting Blaydon through during the last 10-15 minutes when all the momentum was with them, it will make us stronger as a group and breed confidence.
“We said before the game that getting a result was important, but the best thing about it is seeing boys come into the first team – like young Kit Keith at scrum-half – and make an impression.”
With some of those who were unavailable against Blaydon expected to be back in contention for this weekend’s tip to high-flying Fylde, Doherty may well be facing something of a selection headache.
“I had 10 of first-team regular starters watching on from the side on Saturday,” he added.
“Some of them will be back available again this weekend, so now we’ve got real competition for places because some of the boys who came in against Blaydon have 100 per cent done enough to keep their shirts.
“That’s another positive. That makes us stronger across the senior sides. There are so many players pushing for first-team selection now, which is what we want.
“Because of our philosophy as a club, we aren’t ever going to go out and try and recruit loads and loads of players. We want to bring the boys through from the academy, to work with the lads we already have, develop them and make them better.
“If we can continue to improve week-on-week, which we have done so far this term, then we’ll be in a very good place come the end of the season.”
Tries from hooker Aarin Yorke and second row Sam Brady, plus a penalty and two conversions from the boot of Sam Fox proved sufficient for the ‘Gate 1st XV to prevail over a Blaydon side whom they were promoted from the North Premier alongside.
Meanwhile, the Rudding Lane outfit’s second string routed their Blaydon counterparts 52-17.
A much sterner test awaits this Saturday, however, with Doherty set to take his charges to Fylde, who currently sit top of the table having won three out of three thus far.
“They’re really strong, historically a National One team,” he added.
“They’ve got a big budget and obviously they’ve started this season superbly well.
“But, we’ll go there with belief and a game-plan to try and win the match.”