Six of the best for top-of-the-table Harrogate Pythons

Ned Rutty scored the only try of the game as Harrogate Pythons saw off Skipton.
Ned Rutty scored the only try of the game as Harrogate Pythons saw off Skipton.

High-flying Harrogate Pythons RUFC recorded a sixth-successive victory when they saw off Skipton away from home.

Dan Bird's men remain top of the Yorkshire Three standings following Saturday's success, a 15-9 win in difficult conditions.

With persistent drizzle making handling difficult, 'Gate employed a kicking game with Andy MacKay and Tom Breakwell putting the hosts on the back foot from the outset.

An attacking line-out was won cleanly by Ian Binns and driven forward by Matt Leach.

Ross Fallenstein was stopped short of the try-line but Skipton were penalised at the breakdown, allowing Breakwell to open the account with a well-struck penalty after eight minute.

Binns claimed the re-start, however this time it was the Pythons who were penalised and the hosts kicked for the corner.

Another penalty was conceded, allowing Skipton to equalise with a successful shot at goal.

Gate’s scrum began to gel as the game progressed, with player-coach Bird covering the hooking position and better ball at the set-piece allowed the visitors to release their backs.

A promising move saw Luke Price-Gerrard link well with Jed Carr, but his pass was dropped.

A Skipton raid was then ended by a high-tackle on the 10-metre line, the hosts' stand-off converting the resulting penalty with a huge kick.

The home team were penalised at a scrum, though Breakwell’s own long-distance penalty attempt fell under the cross-bar.

With the hosts down to 14 men due to a sin-binning, a Fallenstein kick was misjudged by a Skipton player and Ivan Drane managed to get his hands on the ball and break away from the defence.

Possession was shipped wide to Max Sharp, who was tackled on the try-line and lost the ball, however the referee judged the challenge to have been high and awarded a penalty-try.

This left the Pythons 10-6 ahead with just five minutes of the opening period remaining, however a third Skipton penalty narrowed the gap to 10-9 moments before the interval.

Bird's men conceded another penalty shortly after the resumption, however on this occasion the home number 10's long-range strike didn't quite have the legs.

From a scrum, MacKay broke sharply, finding Ned Rutty who made good ground up the wing.

The ball was quickly recycled to the other side of the pitch but Jonathan Pickard was caught as he cut inside.

From the resulting scrum, the Pythons again went to Rutty, who rounded his opposite number and sped away to finish in the corner making it 15-9 in the 50th minute.

A deliberate knock-on saw the home team reduced to 14 men once again, and 'Gate began to turn the screw.

Strong work by Sharp in a maul led to a quickly-taken penalty, Sam Gibbs making the break before Carr’s inside pass to Leach was knocked on with no defenders between him and the try-line.

A spell of Skipton pressure then led to 'Gate finding themselves camped on their own line.

A series of powerful drives were repelled until Skipton were eventually penalised, however Breakwell missed touch with his kick and Skipton set off on a series of driving mauls.

The men from Station View were forced to dig deep in the closing moments, but they managed to hold out until the final whistle with their lead intact.