Aarin Yorke came off the replacements’ bench to grab the late try that took Harrogate RUFC to a crucial victory over Kendal.
With Dave Doherty’s side left with little margin for error as they attempt to chase down Lymm and Hull in a bid to keep their National Three North play-off hopes alive, things were looking bleak as they entered the closing stages of Saturday’s contest trailing their hosts.
Kendal had gone ahead in the 12th minute and stayed in front until shortly before the final whistle when hooker Yorke went over to earn his team a 14-13 success.
The hosts began the game playing some fast, attacking rugby, but both teams displayed solid defences during the opening exchanges.
Eventually, with 12 minutes on the clock, Kendal’s right wing Kris Bratton collected a Harrogate clearance kick on the half-way line and evaded several would-be tacklers to score a fine individual try under the posts.
Home fly-half Glen Weightman converted for a 7-0 advantage.
An error-strewn period of play followed, and when Harrogate were penalised for hands in a ruck, Weightman kicked a straightforward three-pointer to increase the Kendal advantage to 10-0.
With half an hour played, the hosts then committed the same offence right in front of their own posts and ‘Gate fly-half Luke White booted over a penalty to trim the gap.
In the second period, the Aces had the advantage of a stiff breeze and they made most of the running.
The visiting backs - with Andrew Lawson, Luke Edwards, Olly Rosillo and Doherty prominent - posed a real threat, but the Kendal defence initially kept them at bay.
With Andy Boyde, making his first start of the season in the second row, producing a man of the match performance, Harrogate dominated in the scrum and used their driving maul to good effect.
It did however take until midway through the second half for them to make their pressure tell, a high-tackle affording White the chance to land his second successful penalty for 10–6.
Moments later, the powerful Harrogate pack was penalised for wheeling a scrum in their own 22 and Kendal’s Chris Park did the honours with the boot to re-establish a seven-point cushion.
Further ‘Gate pressure was forthcoming, and this led to a third penalty kick for White, which reduced the arrears at 13–9.
With time running out and the home defence beginning to tire under sustained Aces pressure, a decisive breakthrough eventually arrived.
Not for the first time this season, it was a driving maul that did the damage, Harrogate’s formidable forwards rumbling over the line for Yorke to apply the finishing touch.
The resulting conversion was missed, but Doherty’s men were able to see out the final four minutes of the game with their slender lead intact.
Victory keeps ‘Gate fourth in the league table, but still within touching distance of the play-off spot that a second-placed finish would earn them.
Next up is a home clash with