Harrogate RUFC Ladies’ first outing since promotion to Championship North Two couldn’t have gone much better.
Lucy Barnett’s side demolished Darlington at the Stratstone Stadium on Saturday, running in a hatful of tries in a dominant display.
The first score of the match arrived after only nine minutes as full-back Alex Wallace picked up a loose ball and ran through to touch down before converting herself for 7-0.
A second score soon followed from the same player after captain Rose Jay kicked through for her to slide smoothly over the whitewash.
From a 23rd-minute penalty, Jay then set up inside centre Lauren Bolger, who showed serious speed to race in and then convert herself.
Flanker Anna Hamilton caught the Darlington re-start cleanly and set off down the left wing where Lauren Clarkson was in support to apply a finishing touch.
Bolger added the extras to bring the score to 26-0.
Scrum-half Sophie Wilson and Bolger then linked up to slice through Darlington’s defence and add another try, before centre Nieve Jones and prop Amber Barnicoat combined to release winger Simone Christopher, who went under the posts.
Harrogate added two more touchdowns before the interval, one of which was an impressive effort from Bolger after dealing with a kick close to her own try-line.
The visitors came out after the break with greater intensity and playing some more physical rugby, however it wasn’t long however before Barnett’s team were back in charge of proceedings.
Bolger and Wallace added a couple more scores and winger Ellen Armstrong registered her first try in a Ladies league game after moving up from the under-18 side.
Having handed-off and danced around several defenders, the youngster touched down and Bolger then added Harrogate’s final two points of the match.
Despite trailing by 74 points, Darlington found another gear in the closing stages and their forwards attacked fiercely.
With the away team pushing hard, ‘Gate spent the final quarter of an hour of the contest on the defensive.
Some powerful running saw the visitors edge closer and closer to the home line, but the hosts remained resolute and, despite being under real pressure, managed to hold out until the final whistle.
The player of the match award was shared between Imari Epps, Ellie Ward and Bolger folllowing their stand-out performances.
Harrogate travel to Didsbury Toc H this Sunday.