Struggling Harrogate RUFC approach second half of season 'in a good place'
Harrogate RUFC head into the second half of 2021/22 "energised" and "in a good place" despite kicking off the New Year with a home defeat to Bourneville.
Currently second-from-bottom of the National Two North standings, the Aces went down 24-17 at Rudding Lane on Saturday, a result which saw them beaten for the 12th time in 14 outings this term.
’Gate were very much in the contest throughout, but just fell short in a fixture played out in what can only be described as a mud bath.
And although they had been targeting a much-needed victory against opponents who had lost eight of their previous nine matches, player-coach Sam Fox insists that he and his team-mates are in good spirits having had the opportunity to rest and recuperate during their recent festive break.
“There’s not too much we can take away from Saturday given the conditions the game was played in, so we take it on the chin and move on,” he said.
“I think that as a squad we feel energised after the Christmas break and we’re ready to go again. The boys are looking forward to being able to attack the second half of the season and really throw everything at it.
“As a group I think that we are in a good place. We look refreshed after some time off from rugby and we’ve got a lot of boys back from injury now, so things are starting to come together.
“We had 40 boys training last week and were able to field a strong 1st XV and a strong 2nd VX on Saturday, which is great and will leave us with some selection headaches going forwards.
“That’s what we want. We’ll be able to pick teams based on who we are playing against rather than just who we have available. We can throw ourselves into our games over the coming week.”
Reflecting on Saturday’s clash, Fox said that he was pleased to see a Harrogate side who are at their best when they are able to play an expansive attacking game still push their visitors all the way despite conditions dictating that the contest became a war of attrition up front.
“It was that muddy by the end of the game that you couldn’t tell who was on your team and who was the opposition,” he added.
“Because of the conditions and how muddy it was, it became a battle of the forwards. It was all played up front and it just ended up being about who was able to get over the gain-line.
“That’s not really how we want to play our rugby, but we were still right in the contest all the way through. I think it could have gone either way, but on this occasion we just fell short.
“Having Will Dennis back at prop was real boost for us in terms of our scrum, and the Coser brothers made a big difference in the back row. Sam Brady was also outstanding and made carry after carry.”
An early Kit Keith penalty saw Harrogate take the lead before two converted tries put Bourneville in the driving seat.
Guy Coser would however cross the line to narrow the deficit shortly before half-time, Keith’s successful conversion making the interval scoreline 14-10.
The away side grabbed the first try of the second period to re-establish some daylight, though prop Jacob Percival demonstrated an impressive turn of pace as he touched down to get ‘Gate back in the game once more at 21-17.
Despite plenty of late home pressure a penalty then nudged Bourneville further in front at 24-17 and they were able to hold out.
This Saturday, the Aces visit fellow strugglers Blaydon, the only team currently below them in the table. Kick-off is at 2pm.