HARROGATE kicked off the new National Two North campaign in style, beating hotly-favoured Leicester Lions 41-3 away on Saturday.
Both sides fielded very different teams from the ones who’d competed so evenly last season. In the end, Harrogate’s pack supplied enough quality ball for their backs to dominate the opposition. A rock solid defence throughout the game restricted the Lions to just three penalty points.
The opening try came from a Pete Lucock break and, when he was tackled, fellow centre Toby Quarendon snapped up the loose ball to sprint through and score. Joe Rowntree’s conversion made it 0-7 after 2 minutes. From the restart, Jake Brady was penalised for holding and Jon Boden kicked a good penalty.
However, Harrogate started to apply consistent pressure. The Lions were penalised for crossing and Ruaridh Carmichael made a half break before popping the ball to No8, Harry Hannan, who powered through to score a converted try.
A period of Leicester pressure followed with their impressive flankers Drew Rudkin & Jack Gibbons featuring prominently. Harrogate’s defence held firm with big “hits” coming from Hannan & Tim Heaton. Their line-out was supreme throughout the match---pinpoint throwing from Aarin Yorke led to complete aerial domination from the Brady brothers and Chris Wilson.
Carmichael then split the home defence with an inspired another counter attack but a great Gareth Collins tackle saved a seemingly certain try. Yet more Harrogate pressure followed with inexorable forward drives and Jimmy Browne drove over to score and make it 3-22 at half time.
Glyn Evans had obviously fired up the Lions during the interval because they came out with all guns blazing. The Harrogate goal line was seriously threatened by successive 5 metre scrums but their defence continued to thwart Leicester’s efforts. When the Lions eventually spun the ball wide, pacey winger, Joe Marston, was forced into touch just short of the goal line.
Having weathered the storm, Harrogate came back into the game. The pack turned a home defensive scrum, Wilson picked up and drove for the line but the ball was knocked out of his hands in the process of scoring. Still more attacks followed with Carmichael & Quarendon combining well to put Will Heylings away for a debut Harrogate try. Wave after wave of attacking play then ended with Ed Smithies finishing a move with a spectacular dive over the try line. The final try came from a quick penalty after a Leicester infringement prevented a try illegally. Yorke burst through the defence for a sharp try and Rowntree’s touchline conversion conversion completed the scoring.
Leicester Lions: Collins, Marston, Boden, Cross, Morris, Martin, Glover (Spence 51), Tyres (J Williamson 61), Harris (Williamson 51), Murray, Tuckey (Cheney 57), Solomon, Gibbons (McLaurin 61), Rudkin, Saxon
Harrogate: Smithies, Bannister (Minikin 68), Lucock, Quarendon, Heylings, Carmichael, Rowntree, Browne (Bergmanas 57), Yorke, Fraser, J Brady, S Brady (Spencer 61), Wilson (Enston 68), Heaton, Hannan (Nyemba 61)