Harrogate RUFC’s last-gasp derby defeat to Wharfedale RUFC ‘tough to take’, says Dave Doherty

Dave Doherty described the painful nature of Harrogate RUFC’s last-gasp defeat to derby rivals Wharfedale as “tough to take”.

By Rhys Howell
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 2:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th March 2022, 2:18 pm
Harrogate RUFC's front-row prepare for a scrum during Saturday's National Two North derby loss at Wharfedale. Picture: Brian Coser courtesy of Harrogate RUFC
Harrogate RUFC's front-row prepare for a scrum during Saturday's National Two North derby loss at Wharfedale. Picture: Brian Coser courtesy of Harrogate RUFC

Leading 21-20 at the death, the Aces failed to kick the ball into touch to end the game and instead contrived to give away a penalty, which the hosts landed to snatch a 23-21 victory.

“Saturday’s outcome is really tough to take,” Harrogate’s director of rugby reflected.

“We performed much better than we have been doing of late at quite an intimidating place to go. Wharfedale are excellent at home, but we outplayed them for a large proportion of the game.

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“We were 20-10 up and switched off to gift them a try. Then, at a scrum at the last play of the game, we just needed our number eight or scrum-half to get their hands on the ball and kick it dead.

“But, with nothing to lose, the Wharfedale pack threw everything at us and shunted us and managed to win themselves a penalty which they kicked.

“It’s a real shame for our boys to lose the match like that when I feel as if they had done enough to win it. I think they deserved it, but this will be another learning moment for the group.”

Trailing 10-0 in Saturday's National Two North clash, a try by Rory McNab got Harrogate back in the game before half-time, then Jonny Coser touched down to put the visitors into the lead.

Campbell Swanson then went over to put Doherty’s men in control at 21-10 before Wharfedale staged their late fightback.

“We didn’t get the result, but this was a massive step forward collectively. You can see a lot of progress has been made,” the Aces chief added.

“On an individual level, Adam Penistone was outstanding at scrum-half and Jonny Coser and Sam Brady excelled in the forwards.

“Jack Kennell really impressed me as well at outside centre. He’s a young boy who has come all the way through our junior section and is really starting to look like a genuine National Two player now.

“He stepped up his game defensively on Saturday and just continues to get better and better.”

Saturday’s defeat was bottom-of-the-table Harrogate’s ninth on the spin and leaves them 10 points adrift of 15th-placed Huddersfield, having played two games more.

This weekend, the Aces visit 11th-placed Loughborough Students, looking to avenge November’s 24-15 defeat on home soil.

Kick-off down in Leicestershire is at 2pm.