Fourth consecutive win keeps Pythons in touch at the top

Harrogate Pythons ace Ned Rutty runs at the Aireborough defence on his way to the try-line
Harrogate Pythons ace Ned Rutty runs at the Aireborough defence on his way to the try-line

Harrogate Pythons find themselves just two points shy of the Yorkshire Three summit following a fourth straight win.

Dan Bird’s side kicked-off 2018/19 with a narrow loss to Knottingley, but have not looked back since, defeating Wensleydale, Halifax Vandals and Hemsworth in their three previous outings.

And Saturday's trip to Aireborough saw them victorious once again, coming out on top of an end-to-end affair by a 46-38 scoreline.

It was the hosts who broke the deadlock, however, a series of pick and drives from a line-out leading to an early try and a 7-0 advantage.

The Pythons looked to move the ball wide at every opportunity but poor handling let them down until Ned Rutty ran 50 metres and beat several defenders to score in the corner for 7-7.

Aireborough re-took the lead almost immediately from the re-start, but their visitors levelled things up once again following a spell of pressure that ended with scrum-half Gareth Drane slipping through a gap to touch down.

With 32 minutes on the clock, the men from Station View took a quick line-out, but the hosts managed to turn over the ball and ran it wide to register a third converted score and move 21-14 ahead.

The see-saw nature of the match continued and Rutty showed his pace once again, running away from two defenders and crossing the whitewash to reduce the deficit at 21-19.

The final action of the opening period saw Aireborough kick a penalty for a 24-19 advantage at the interval.

The Pythons began the second half brightly. Ollie Wheatley was stopped just short of the line and the visitors were awarded a penalty from the resulting scrum, Hugh Tatlow eventually diving over to put his team ahead for the first time in the contest.

With the Harrogate outfit into their stride, the play was spread for replacement Jake Harland to score in the corner with his first touch of the ball.

Some powerful driving from the Pythons pack and quick hands then allowed Tom Everingham to crash over from short range to extend the lead to 36-24.

Debutant Ram Ismail was next to cross the try-line before the home team hit back with a score of their own, trimming the gap at 41-31.

The visitors responded immediately, Ollie Wheately sending Joe Bentham in under the posts, and although Aireborough had the final say, the points headed back to Harrogate.