Harrogate RUFC's first win in six should be catalyst for improvement, insists Sam Fox
Sam Fox believes that Harrogate RUFC‘s victory over Tynedale will prove to be significant for more than one reason.
Saturday's 38-31 success on the road saw an inexperienced Aces side win for the first time in six attempts, lifting them off the foot of the National Two North standings in the process.
Having lost seven of their opening eight matches of the campaign, a positive result was much-needed and player-coach Fox is confident that beating the Northumberland outfit will kick-start an improved run of form, and turn out to be a significant learning moment for the club's emerging young talent.
"We are over the moon, it's a result that has been coming for a few weeks because we've been playing some good rugby without managing to get over the line," he said.
"All the hard work that we've been putting in has translated into a win and I'm sure the players will take a lot of belief and a lot of confidence from Saturday.
"I think it can be a catalyst for us to go on pick up more results. We are heading into a run of fixtures between now and Christmas that we feel we can take points from.
"It's massive for the younger boys. They've been getting a lot of good experience playing first-team rugby this season, but the experience of winning games and learning how to do that is going to be really important in terms of their development.
"Learning how to manage games - how to see them out when you're winning or finding a way to score the points you need when you're behind - is crucial. Being able to execute these kind of skills makes them better players."
'Gate started Saturday's contest superbly, with early tries from full-back Sam Parry and winger Harry Barnard handing them a 14-0 advantage with just five minutes on the clock.
Further touchdowns by hooker Steve Maycock, lock Frazer Kitching and fly-half Harry Yates moved the visitors into a commanding 33-5 lead, though despite having a man in the sin-bin, Tynedale crossed late in the first half to narrow the gap to 21 points at the break.
Such a healthy interval advantage should have meant that the result was never in doubt, but all of the home team's three victories this term have seen them come from behind to finish in the ascendancy.
A try just a couple of minutes after the resumption made it 33-19 and another Tynedale comeback appeared to be a very real possibility.
But Harrogate's pack then took control and Declan Thompson crashed over the whitewash for what proved to be a crucial score.
The Aces held that 38-19 lead until the closing stages when the Northumbrians rallied once more and grabbed two more tries shortly before the final whistle.
"I was pretty confident throughout that second half that the boys would see it out," Fox added.
"There were a few alarm bells ringing when they got that try straight after half-time, but our response was good and I think going down the other end and scoring another one of our own fairly soon afterwards meant there was going to be too much for Tynedale to do.
"We started brilliantly, but that was just down to us working through our processes, staying in our shape, building the phases and then finishing the opportunities off when they came.
"It was nice to see the boys get their rewards for sticking to the system and carrying out the things that we work on every week in training."
This Saturday sees 14th-placed 'Gate back on home soil where they entertain a Loughborough Students side who are currently seventh in the table having won five and lost five so far this term.
"We know that Loughborough are a very professional outfit, very well coached and that they have some extremely talented players in their backs," Fox continued.
"They like to throw the ball around and they're really effective at what they do on their 4G pitch, but we're playing on grass this weekend, so we've got to try and use that to our advantage.
"We'll review the Tynedale game, and look at where we need to improve because we conceded too many tries, but there's no reason why we can't win this game if our performance level is as high as it was last time out.
"I 100 per cent believe that this is a winnable game if we can turn up and play our best rugby."
Injury-ravaged 'Gate will once again be missing a host of players in both the forwards and the backs for Saturday's visit of Loughborough, but centre Marcus Mercer is expected to return.
Kick-off at Rudding Lane is at 2pm.