Pythons leave Medics with a headache after bonus-point victory
Harrogate Pythons climbed away from the Yorkshire Three relegation places courtesy of a comprehensive bonus-point victory over fellow strugglers Sheffield Medicals.
Dan Bird’s side went into Saturday’s fixture beneath their hosts in the table, and in danger of being sucked into the drop zone, however a dominant forwards display paved the way for a 26-3 success and sees them climb three positions to ninth.
The Pythons began brightly and their front row of Nathan Wake, Sandy Dunlop and Steve Smith took control of the scrum from the off, driving the Medics backwards on their own ball at the game’s first set-piece.
The hosts were penalised and ‘Gate elected to scrummage once again, pushing the home pack over their own try-line for scrum-half Steve Kirkpatrick to pounce and dot down.
Max Sharp added the conversion for a 7-0 lead after just five minutes of play.
With the visitors’ line-out also functioning well, the Medics found possession hard to come by and the Pythons continued to make most of the running.
Matt Halpin was denied his side’s second try by a fine covering tackle from the home full-back, but the respite was short-lived.
George Wilton picked up from another scrum and was stopped just short of the whitewash, but managed to offload to the supporting Hugh Tatlow who crashed over.
More scrum dominance led to Ollie Wheatley breaking down the right wing, only for the Sheffield full-back to again rescue his team.
Another scrum saw Wilton almost cross once again, but he was initially repelled and Neil Douglas flicked the ball up for the rampaging Wake to touch down.
Sharp booted over the extras for a 19-0 half-time lead.
The Medics upped their game considerably after the interval and the Pythons had to do some defending.
They tackled well, however, and all the Sheffield outfit had to show for their efforts after 55 minutes was a solitary drop goal.
Having withstood a prolonged spell of pressure, ‘Gate eventually broke out of defence thanks to some big carries from Dunlop, Wilton, Josh Smith and Matt Leach.
With his side back on the front foot, Ben Pye spun the ball wide for Tatlow to crash over in the corner for the Pythons’ bonus-point try.
Sharp then added an excellent conversion kick from close to the touchline to put the seal on a fine performance.
On Saturday, Bird’s men welcome rock-bottom Baildon to Station View.