Pythons soundly beaten by Otliensians
Harrogate Pythons were soundly beaten on home soil by Old Otliensians, going down to a 37-5 defeat in Yorkshire Three.
The visitors started strongly, going through the phases and looking to move the ball wide at every opportunity.
Some last-ditch cover defence from the Pythons kept them at bay initially, with Max Sharp, Joe Bentham and Jack Clarkson all tackling well.
The ‘Gate pack was bossing the visiting eight in the scrum , but good work from the experienced Otliensians number eight helped them keep possession despite being under pressure.
The hosts were relying on big carries in midfield by Nathan Wake, Marc Ford, Rob Lunn, John Reah and Matt Leach to keep them on the front foot, but aggressive counter rucking from their opponents resulted in either slow or turnover ball.
Dan Bird’s men almost broke away to open the scoring when Bentham made an interception on his own 22, but he was stopped by a last-ditch tackle.
This break seemed to lift ‘Gate’s confidence and soon after, good play by Reah saw Leech draw the last defender and put Chris Peel away.
He was tackled just before the line, but showed good composure to regain his feet and drop over the whitewash to put his team 5-0 up after 25 minutes.
Otliensians responded immediately with a length-of-the-field break but were again stopped by a good covering tackle from Sharp.
With the visitors pressing hard and, after a series of attacking scrums, managed to score out wide for 5-5 39 just a minute before half-time.
Clarkson then received a yellow card for reacting to a head-butt from a visiting player, but there were no more points scored before the interval.
The Pythons started the second period poorly, losing possession at kick-off.
Their defensive line seemed not to exist as an Otliensians winger was put clear, but he was cut down by a great tackle from Jake Harland.
The away side began playing at a great tempo, but were met by solid defencee.
Steve Kirkpatrick then saw a clearance kick charged down by a visiting flanker and the ball bounced up nicely for the the Otliensians man to catch and touch down 10-5 on 52 minutes.
‘Gate then lost Hugh Tatlow to a blood injury and they were pushed off their own scrum ball by the away pack, allowing their number eight to go over for 15-5.
From another scrum on the Pythons’ five-metre line, the visiting number eight repeated the trick, picking up to charge over the line for a second time.
Bentham was the next ‘Gate man to leave the field, sustaining a head injury after one big hit too many and when his teammates were penalised close to their line, Otliensians took a quick tap to score again for 25-5.
With the Pythons’ heads down the visitors added a further two tries and a conversion in the last five minutes to make the final score 37-5.
Bird’s troops now have a week off, followed by what will likely be a difficult trip to Castleford on March 4.