‘Gate Ladies wrap up league title with demolition of Doncaster

Harrogate RUFC's Rose Jay dives over the try-line during Sunday's demolition of Doncaster Demons.
Harrogate RUFC's Rose Jay dives over the try-line during Sunday's demolition of Doncaster Demons.

Harrogate RUFC Ladies wrapped up the Women’s National Challenge North East One title courtesy of an emphatic victory against Doncaster Demons.

Lucy Barnett’s team romped to a 60-0 success over their visitors at the Stratstone Stadium on Sunday, extending their 100 per cent league record for 2017/18 and opening up an unassailable lead at the top of the table.

A 10th consecutive win leaves them eight points clear at the summit, and with nearest challengers Ashfield only having one game left to play, the Nottinghamshire outfit no longer have any chance of catching the Rudding Lane ladies.

‘Gate were only promoted to the division this season, but have adapted to the standard in no time, securing a promotion play-off spot at the first attempt with two fixtures to spare.

They left nothing to chance against Doncaster, taking control of the match early on and running in eight touchdowns before the interval.

The South Yorkshire outfit did mange to hold out for the first 10 minutes and force some errors from the home side, however, their resistance was soon broken.

With Harrogate matching a far bigger opposition pack in the scrum, they quickly shipped the ball right for Simone Christopher to score in the corner.

The floodgates then opened, and soon afterwards, fly-half Evie Tonkin touched down under the sticks to increase the lead.

Scrum-half Rose Jay caught Doncaster’s re-start kick perfectly and evaded a host of defenders before diving over the whitewash for her side’s third.

Tonkin added the conversion to make the scoreline 17-0 with just a quarter of an hour played.

Centre Evie Jackson claimed the next try after sprinting through the defence and over the line, Ailish Clear converting for 24-0.

Jay then took advantage of a scrambled defence and bagged herself a second of the day, full-back Clear adding the extras again.

Flanker Lauren Clarkson soon followed suit having made a powerful break through two defenders, accelerating clear and dotting down to the right of the sticks.

Clarkson was straight back at the Demons from the re-start, breaking through once again and darting up the pitch before she was stopped just short of the try-line.

Unfortunately for the visitors, Jackson was in support and on hand to receive her team-mate’s offload before touching down and widening the gap.

Clear’s third conversion of the match nudged the score along to 43-0.

The home forwards laid the foundations for the last try of the half by turning a Doncaster scrum and regaining possession.

The backs then got involved with quick passes coming from Jackson and her fellow centre Kelly Morgan, before the ball reached winger Hannah Blount, who flew over the line to register a debut try.

Finding themselves 48 points to the good, ‘Gate made a number of changes to their side at the interval, and this initially appeared to have knocked them out of their rhythm in the early stages of the second period.

Normal service was soon resumed, however, Tonkin dummying left before going around the blind side of a ruck and notching her second touchdown then converting herself for 55-0.

Christopher then rounded off the scoring with the final try of the day before the game was called to an early conclusion due to a serious injury sustained by a Doncaster player.

‘Gate will have the chance to seal a place in Women’s Championship North Two on April 22 when they tackle an as yet unknown opponent at a neutral venue in their promotion play-off clash.

Their success continues an excellent season for female sports teams in Harrogate, with Harrogate Town AFC Ladies also recently crowned champions of the North East Regional Women’s Football League Southern Division.