Depleted Gate target right mindset for Tigers clash

hsb  'Gate v Preston Grasshoppers. Joe Rowntree scores a try.   (131116M1b)
hsb 'Gate v Preston Grasshoppers. Joe Rowntree scores a try. (131116M1b)
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Harrogate RUFC director of rugby Mike Aspinall has tasked his players to carry their correct mentality into this weekend’s clash at Sheffield Tigers.

Gate held off Preston Grasshoppers’ second-half onslaught on Saturday to beat a top five National Two North club for the first time this season.

Aspinall’s depleted squad had raced into a 40-5 lead at the break after a “clinical” exhibition of a attacking rugby.

Centre Callum Irvine started the try-scoring after wriggling through two tackles, before Preston stole in to hit back.

Aarin Yorke squirmed through for Gate’s second try, before Jake Brady powered over.

Fly-half Joe Rowntree, who struck five conversions in the match, then raced the length of the field to score under the posts.

Luke Edwards added Gate’s fifth score before Oli Denton rounded off the half after strong work by Brady.

But the wheels came off in the second period and the Hoppers clawed the score back to 45-40 before full-time, Yorke running in Gate’s only additional score.

“It was a strange game,” said Aspinall.

“We were clinical about taking our points when we go up there and had opportunities to score.”

Gate’s first-half showing was a marked improvement on the previous week’s 24-17 defeat to Caldy, and Aspinall praised his side for sprinting out of the blocks.

“There were some massive plusses with the boys and they knew they owed each other a good performance,” he said.

“The boys were in the right mindset, and that makes a whole lot of difference. Our mentality was absolutely spot on.

And with a trip to lowly Sheffield Tigers awaiting on Saturday, Aspinall urged for a repeat.

He said: “Our environment is based on being better than the week before. That brings a certain amount of motivation.

“That’s the culture we are trying to create.”

However, ‘Gate will travel to Sheffield weakened after their injury-crisis worsened in Saturday’s victory.

Centre Luke Edwards suffered a broken jaw and Lewis Minikin went to hospital with a foot injury.

Mike Lloyd (broken arm) and Kyle Dench (illness) are other absentees.

Sam Bottomley is hopeful of returning from injury in Edwards’ place and Aspinall confirmed he will hand a first substitute place to 18-year-old utility back Max Simmonds.

Gate’s chief added: “We are ravaged by injuries, yet, I will be confident with the team we put out we will be able to get the results.

“It’s testing the strength in depth of this squad. Everybody is having to play their part in the season, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

“Max is a talent. It’s great for the club to have a policy to lean back on the other teams.

“I see it as a great opportunity to build a young player and give them first team experience.”