Harrogate RUFC Ladies consolidated their position at the top of the Women’s National Championship North Two table, beating Didsbury Toc H 32-10.
The victory was the eighth in as many league matches for Lucy Barnett’s team and leaves them 15 points clear of their nearest rivals heading into 2019.
Visiting Didsbury began the game strongly and put immediate pressure on the ‘Gate defence.
The hosts did however manage to rip the ball from the grasp of the Didsbury fly-half and Alex Wallace ran clear from halfway to touch down and open the scoring.
Harrogate were soon back in possession following the re-start and prop Amber Barnicoat surprised the opposition with a grubber kick that scatterred the away defence.
A home player reached the loose ball first, but possession was turned over and Didsbury broke down the wing.
Rachel Demoraes was quickest to react and made a last-ditch, try-saving tackle, stopping the visiting full-back in her tracks before she had chance to touch down.
Didsbury kept coming, however and when they earned themselves a penalty in the home half, it led to them making it across the whitewash, levelling matters at 5-5.
‘Gate reacted well to this set-back, but their progress towards the try-line was checked by a knock-on.
This put Didsbury back on the front foot, however it wasn’t long before Barnicoat flattened an opponent with a big tackle, turning the ball over in the process.
Seventeen-year-old Izzy Harris then came on for her debut as Demoraes went off injured, just before Lauren Bolger scored the home side’s second try following a penalty.
Her footwork took her through the visitors’ defensive line and and she added the extras herself to put Harrogate 12-5 up.
The home side were then held up on the try-line and Didsbury eventually managed to counter, adding their second score to narrow the gap at 12-10.
The ‘Gate response was however instantaneous, Barnicoat dummying her way over the whitewash and making it 17-10.
From the re-start, Barnett’s charges pushed forwards once more, but the ball was fumbled under pressure.
Though Harrogate were then shunted backwards at the resulting scrum, Sophie Wilson combined with number eight Anna Hamilton to touch down and leave the half-time score at 22-10.
Shortly after the resumption, Bolger turned on the afterburners having caught a Didsbury clearance kick, extending the home lead further.
Harrogate then won a series of penalties close to the visitors’ try-line following a succession of offences at the breakdown.
The home pack did their best to add to their points tally, but the Didsbury defence held out before claiming turnover ball.
‘Gate were soon back in the ascendancy however and Hamilton and Wallace both went close before the latter eventually made it over to wrap things up.
Next up for Barnett’s ladies is a National Cup encounter at home to West Bridgford, 2pm kick-off on Sunday.