‘Gate backs shine in Pocklington success

Noel Minkin on the charge during Harrogate RUFC's win at Pocklington Picture: Richard Bown
Noel Minkin on the charge during Harrogate RUFC's win at Pocklington Picture: Richard Bown

The attacking prowess of Harrogate RUFC’s back division guided the Rudding Lane outfit to a 40-20 success on the road at Pocklington in National Three North.

Dave Doherty’s men dominated for long periods of Saturday’s clash at Percy Road but the home side also enjoyed several good spells in what was an enjoyable spectacle from first minute to last.

The game began with a Pocklington kick-off that failed to go the required 10 metres, but this was not spotted by match referee Owen Taylor.

A home clearance was then fielded by Luke White who kicked ahead, only to be cynically tripped by full-back Jonty Peters as he gave chase.

The Pocklington man was sin-binned, and from the resulting play a driving maul ended with hooker Steve Maycock touching down for a 5-0 lead, White missing the conversion.

The hosts’ re-start kick again failed to go 10 metres, but this time the infringement was spotted by the match official.

Pocklington then enjoyed a good spell of territory and possession but were met by some resolute defence from their visitors who soon extended their advantage courtesy of a fine piece of individual brilliance by Andrew Lawson.

As the home team again failed to clear their lines properly, the full-back danced past a couple of defenders then sent a perfectly-weighted kick towards the try-line, showing great pace to reach the ball before the cover and slide over the whitewash.

White added the extras for 12-0, but the Aces were dealt a blow soon afterwards when Lawson was forced off the pitch through injury.

The disruption to their back-line was hardly noticeable, however, and Harrogate came again, Keane Naylor punching a hole with a surge through midfield.

Noel Minkin ran a good line in support and ‘Gate recycled the ball rapidly before some quick handling saw the ball shipped right for the overlapping Edwards to dot down as Pocklington ran out of defenders.

White booted over the extra two points and the opening period then ended with the hosts pressing hard and eventually wining and slotting over a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Pocklington came out after the interval with real intent and from a quickly-taken penalty that arguably should have been awarded the other way, Jonty Peters raced clear to narrow the gap.

The same player was then off target with his conversion attmpet and just a couple of minutes later he dragged a penalty wide of the posts from a central position where it almost looked harder to miss.

The hosts were working hard to get themselves back into the game, but ‘Gate soon came back at them and a driving maul was halted illegally close to the home line, leading to a penalty-try which was kicked for a 26-8 lead.

Minikin then put the game to bed when he picked the ball up just inside the Pocklington half and, after selling his opposite man a clever dummy he weaved his way past a couple of would-be tacklers and glided over the whitewash, White converting.

‘Gate reached the 40-point mark when their backs again combined brilliantly, offloading sharply and supporting each other superbly to allow Olly Rosillo an easy run in under the posts for White to convert.

The hosts looked dead and buried, but to their credit they rallied in the final five minutes and Tom Peters galloped through to register his team’s second touchdown of the afternoon.

A midfield interception from Jonty Peters then saw him run in unopposed from distance before converting his own try, but Pocklington’s mini-revival was ended by the full-time whistle moments later with ‘Gate still 20 points to the good.

A fifth consecutive victory keeps Doherty’s men third in the National Three North standings ahead of Saturday’s home clash with top-of-the-table Preston Grasshoppers.