Pythons edged out by Phoenix in top-of-the-table clash

Action from Harrogate Pythons' Yorkshire Three clash with Rotherham Phoenix
Action from Harrogate Pythons' Yorkshire Three clash with Rotherham Phoenix

Harrogate Pythons were edged out by Yorkshire Three leaders Rotherham Phoenix in Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash at Station View.

Harrogate Pythons were edged out by Yorkshire Three leaders Rotherham Phoenix in Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash at Station View.

Dan Bird’s men went into the game on the back of five straight wins and led throughout what was a closely-contested affair, taking a slender advantage into the last 10 minutes, only for the visitors to snatch victory courtesy of a late try.

Ned Rutty moved the Pythons ahead in the 10th minute, making an interception before racing away to score under the posts.

Ross Fallenstein added the extra two points for a 7-0 advantage, but Rotherham soon reduced the deficit when they kicked a penalty.

The hosts were awarded and converted a three-pointer of their own with 16 minutes played, restoring the seven-point gap between the sides.

From the re-start, Kris Starkey made a strong break and quick ball from Gareth Drane gave Liam Kernoghan the time to spot a great line by Hugh Tatlow, who crossed the whitewash untouched for 15-3.

Phoenix hit back with their first try of the afternoon in the 26th-minute, then, with the Pythons down to 14 men due to a yellow card, the visitors went over again following a catch-and-drive froma line-out.

With their lead trimmed to just two points, the hosts found themselves under real pressure at the start of the second period, but they defended resolutely.

An Ian Binns turnover led to Leach leading his team up the pitch and Rutty was in support to pick up and dart around the blindside.

He was tap-tackled just short of the line, but managed to wriggle over for the try and a 20-13 lead.

Rotherham responded with a touchdown of their own following a quick tap from a penalty, however another turnover, this time by Luke Price-Gerrard enabled Joe Bentham to pick out Rutty, who raced away for his hat-trick try, moving ‘Gate into a 25-18 lead with 64 minutes played.

Phoenix then narrowed the gap by kicking a penalty, before a 73rd-minute touchdown from a quickly-taken penalty saw them edge in front for the first time.

Fallenstein managed to collect a Kernoghan clearance kick and advanced towards the away line as Bird's troops made one last push at the death, but the visitors were able to hold out and left North Yorkshire with a 28-25 success to their name.