‘Gate edge closer to safety with Scunthorpe success

Captain Jake Brady scored Harrogate RUFC's first try in their victory at Scunthorpe. Picture: Caught Light Photography
Captain Jake Brady scored Harrogate RUFC's first try in their victory at Scunthorpe. Picture: Caught Light Photography

Harrogate RUFC moved further away from the National Two North relegation places with a 18-15 victory at Scunthorpe.

Dave Doherty’s side climbed one position to 11th in the league standings and now sit seven points clear of the drop zone after they edged past the Lincolnshire strugglers to record a fourth win in five games.

On a wet and muddy pitch, both sides played their part in what was an exciting match, aided by match official Alex Thomas’s empathetic refereeing.

Scunthorpe opened with waves of controlled attacking rugby and flanker James Dyson broke strongly early on.

Harrogate went offside at the ensuing breakdown and Steve Johnson’s penalty moved the hosts 3-0 ahead.

Both packs continued to slug it out at close quarters with the visitors winning a succession of good turnovers.

When hooker Aarin Yorke pounced on a loose ball and made an electric 30-metre break but was stopped just short of the line, an attacking driving maul followed and Jake Brady crashed over to put the Cockerels 5-3 up.

A period of Scunthorpe forward pressure followed and they set up a driving maul from an attacking line-out from which Dyson squeezed through to touch down and restore the home team’s lead.

Then came the try of the match. Harry Barnard fielded a Scunthorpe clearance just inside the hosts’ half and accelerated away from an attempted tackle.

His pace and power then took him through the home defence and in for a stunning 40-metre try that was converted by Doherty for 12-8.

As half-time approached, the men from Lincolnshire set up an attacking driving maul but play was stopped because of a head injury to Harrogate prop Connor Ward.

He eventually left the field after a lengthy delay, and Scunthorpe were awarded an attacking scrum which allowed number eight Jake Barron to pick up at the base and go over for a 15-12 lead at the break.

The Rudding Lane outfit went up a gear after the interval and sustained pressure forced handling errors from the home team.

Dominant Harrogate scrummaging led to Scunthorpe being penalised and Doherty’s kick evened the score at 15 apiece.

More of the same followed and, after another home scrum offence, a quickly-taken Danny Matthews free-kick led to a defender coming in at the side at the breakdown.

The resulting Doherty penalty put Harrogate 18-15 ahead and proved to be the final score of the day.

This was however by no means the end of the match. Scunthorpe mounted a succession of attacks which forced the Cockerels into conceding a series of penalties.

Number eight Tim Heaton took one for the team and headed off to the sin-bin, giving the hosts the chance of a straightforward equalising penalty goal. However, with Harrogate left with only seven forwards, Scunthorpe opted for an attacking scrum.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, the seven-man pack resisted strongly, forcing the homesters to spin the ball wide and a knock-on ended the match with Doherty’s team’s lead still intact.