Otley and Harrogate defied atrocious conditions to provide the hardy spectators with an enthralling National Two North match, which Harrogate won 20-10 at Cross Green.
Early Harrogate attacks were foiled by a combination of good Otley defence and a succession of penalties.
Otley opened the scoring in the tenth minute following a powerful break from their outstanding flanker, Matt Heaton. The move was carried on by powerful centre, Mike Coady who burst through for a try converted by Stephen Depledge.
The home side then increased their lead after a string of penalties eventually gave them one within Depledge’s kicking range and they moved into a ten-point lead.
Harrogate gradually upped their game with increasing forward control giving them more possession.
Half backs, Danny Matthews and Callum Irvine orchestrated play masterfully and, after half an hour, Irvine opened Harrogate’s account with a try converted by Joe Rowntree. The ball had gone loose following a Harrogate driving maul, Otley tried to hack it clear but Irvine gathered it at pace to dance through the defence.
In his 150th 1st team game, Jake Brady, Harrogate’s inspirational captain. drove his pack forward to take more and more control.
Nearing half time, a Harrogate driving maul produced good ball but Matthews was illegally impeded as he tried to follow his attacking chip. Many referees would have regarded this as a yellow card offence but Otley still had 15 players on the field as Rowntree’s penalty brought the scores level.
Harrogate took increasing control of the match after the interval.
All their forwards played well individually but it was as a unit that they were absolutely outstanding.
The backs were able to make good use of the increased possession but the next scoring sequence followed a brilliant Irvine take of a high kick under pressure.
Sam Bottomley and Luke Edwards carried on the attack but the promising move ended when a player unfortunately ran into the referee.
However, Otley then went offside and Rowntree’s kick put Harrogate ahead for the first time.
Still more Harrogate attacks followed with Irvine’s breaks a continual problem for the home side. The pressure mounted and, from an attacking line-out, Harrogate set up a driving maul. Kerry Wood managed the maul skilfully and, very fittingly, it was Brady who stormed through the defence to score. Rowntree’s conversion secured the win and gave him a 100% kicking record for the day.
The match also doubled up as a Yorkshire Cup match. Harrogate are now in the semi finals and will play Wheatley Hills.