Last-gasp penalty seals dramatic win for high-flying Harrogate Pythons

Harrogate Pythons' Liam Kernoghan gets his hands on the ball during Saturday's thrilling victory over Hemsworth.
Harrogate Pythons' Liam Kernoghan gets his hands on the ball during Saturday's thrilling victory over Hemsworth.

Harrogate Pythons moved three points clear at the top of the Yorkshire Three standings following a roller coaster win away at Hemsworth.

Dan Bird’s high-flyers looked to be on their way to a first loss in nine outings, only for Tom Breakwell’s last-gasp penalty to seal a dramatic 29-27 victory.

The home side had the benefit of a slope and a stiff breeze in the first half, and showed from the kick-off that they knew how to use the elements to apply sustained pressure on the team seven places above them in the league table.

Hemsworth spent most of the opening 10 minutes camped in the Harrogate half and, after multiple phases, they eventually crashed over for a 7-0 lead.

The hosts continued to use their kicking game to keep the Pythons pinned in their own half, however when one such clearance was charged down some good play afforded Ned Rutty the chance to burst through midfield and score under the posts to level matters.

Hemsworth then added a second try to restore their seven-point advantage, though ‘Gate again hit back.

Jed Carr collected his own delicate kick ahead and found John Pickard, who drew the last defender before passing back inside to Joe Bentham to finish.

With Bird’s men now into their stride, Pickard again picked out Bentham and the home team were powerless to stop the flying winger going in at the corner after a 50-metre burst.

This score meant that ‘Gate led 19-14 at half-time and they wasted little time in extending their lead after the resumption.

From a scrum, Hugh Tatlow picked up at Number eight and created an overlap before the ball was shipped to Ross Fallenstein who had too much pace for the Hemsworth full-back and went under the posts.

With a 12-point lead to their name and the big home pack seemingly tiring, the visitors looked well set to go on and take control of the match, however the introduction of fresh legs from the replacements’ bench breathed new life into Hemsworth.

Two tries in quick succession saw them reduce the gap to 26-24 and disaster then struck for the Pythons when, with just seconds remaining, the hosts were awarded a penalty in front of the posts.

A successful kick edged them a single point ahead, yet there was still time for ‘Gate to re-start the game.

As they desperately sought a way to the try-line a Hemsworth offence was spotted in midfield and Breakwell landed the resulting 35-yard penalty to win the match in dramatic fashion.