HARROGATE threw down the gauntlet to National Two North’s top sides at Caldy on Saturday, showing December’s stunning win at Leicester Lions was no fluke as they crushed their hosts 53-25.
Mike Aspinall’s troops had not touched a ball since their trip to the Midlands but forged a dazzling display of running rugby to tear Caldy apart, Jamie Broadley claiming three tries.
Tomorrow they welcome Huddersfield to Claro Road for a Yorkshire derby, looking to set the record straight after their 27-5 defeat back in September.
Aspinall is urging focus and concentration for the game against what he predicts will be characteristically tricky opposition (2.15pm kick-off).
“We’re coming off the back of a good win and looking at the table we should be capable of getting something from it,” he said.
“But we were absolutely awful over there, and they’re a difficult side to get past.
“They’re not the best players we’ve ever faced but they’re well-drilled and hard to beat.
“It’s a massive game for us, and we don’t want to lose to them twice in one season. On top of that we’re desperate to keep backing up the wins and keep going.”
Prop Jimmy Browne is expected to return to the front row tomorrow but otherwise, Aspinall is eager to keep the side as unchanged as he is able.
“We’re looking to keep it relatively unchanged, there are few knocks to resolve but I want to keep it as settled as possible,” he said.
“We do have some tough games coming up. Looking at fixtures after Christmas it doesn’t make nice reading but we’ve already played one those at Caldy and we played really well.
“It’s vital we stay focused on our performance; we’re very confident in our rugby but there are some things we’ve got to work on getting right and not just wait for it to happen.
“On our day we can compete with anyone in the league.
“I thought Jamie Broadley was a real threat last week, Tom Bugge controlled things well at 9, and the back line looks like a real threat if people stay fit.
“I was pleased with how the pack went and how they supported the backs, and if that continues to function well it’ll give us the opportunity to win more games.”
With first choice props unavailable, Harrogate opted to create as much ball for their back row as possible and this worked a treat as Caldy were cut to shreds.
Flanker Alex Rieder drove through to set up good ball and scrum half Bugge worked well with Aspinall to unleash the first of several dazzling moves.
A quickly-taken Aspinall penalty kick set up hooker Steve Maycock to score in the corner and the conversion put ‘Gate 7-0 ahead.
Caldy’s Richard Vasey responded with three points after Harrogate went offside, but Aspinall’s drop goal restored the advantage.
Centre Jamie Broadley then finished off a fine backs move with a try before Caldy hit back with two tries to level the scores.
Another Broadley try put ‘Gate ahead once again by the break and his pace down the wing set up winger James Rothwell for a bonus-point winning try.
Vasey kicked another three points but Maycock crossed again and centre Kyle Dench provided Broadley with his hat-trick try, which came via a 30-metre run.
Rothwell pounced on a Caldy fumble to create space for Sam Bottomley to score under the posts, and despite another Caldy try, Rothwell ended the day with a second try to break the 50-point barrier.
“We were a bit nervous going back into the first week after such a long lay-off, wondering ‘have they all been enjoying the festivities too much?’.
“But we came out and backed up the performance at Leicester exactly the way we wanted,” said Aspinall.
“The club hasn’t beaten Caldy for a while but we worked on our game and really gave a good account of ourselves.
“We were on top of our game, and I think the rest has done people some good as everyone got straight back into it.
“I don’t think Caldy were the best side we’ve ever played but we did everything we needed to in the right way.”