Harrogate RUFC secured a third consecutive Yorkshire Cup final appearance when they beat Hull 25-10 at Rudding Lane.
Dave Doherty’s men, who have won the competition for the last two seasons, will now face National Two North rivals Sheffield Tigers in a repeat of last year’s showpiece, at Morley RUFC on April 26.
With Hull flying high in National Three North and Harrogate occupying the lower echelons of the tier above, there was little between the sides on paper and Saturday’s semi-final clash turned out to be a hard-fought, entertaining encounter.
The Cockerels won the toss and chose to play with the strong blustery wind behind them as their visitors kicked off into a gale.
After just five minutes, ‘Gate earned a penalty and fly-half Luke Riddell kicked his side into a 3-0 lead.
Hull were quickly back into the game, however, and from a line-out in the home 22 they secured the ball for a catch and drive try for hooker and captain Thomas Rice.
Tailing 5-3, Doherty’s troops began to dominate possession and their backs started to move the ball around with some accurate passing and safe handling.
They worked their way up the field and from a ruck, lively scrum-half Phil Wickham took route one from a ruck to touchd down from 15 metres out, Riddell adding the extras for 10-5.
The ‘Gate forwards held the edge in the physical contest with Jonny Coser, Aarin Yorke, Tom Larder, Jack Barnard and Jack Starkey sharing the workload with their older team-mates.
With the hosts winning phase after phase, Hull lock Lira Seren made a deliberate knock-on and was yellow carded with 30 minutes on the clock.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the visitors worked their way into the Harrogate half and kicked for touch from a penalty with half-time approaching.
From the line-out, six metres from the Harrogate line, they successfully caught the ball and drove over for their second and final score of the game, again for Rice.
The conversion was missed against the wind and the teams went into the break level at 10-10.
From the resumption, Harrogate showed a willingness to continue passing the ball around their back division and displayed some clever interplay.
Within a minute of kick-off, they created space on the left wing and debutant wing Ashman’s pace took him over the line for Gate’s second try of thr day and a 15-10 advantage.
The hosts’ lively and entertaining play continued, and this time it was speedy full-back Oli Rosillo who applied the finishing touch, Riddell converting for 22-10.
The home backs were visibly full of confidence and although Hull defended bravely they were outplayed and following a high tackle, Harrogate were awarded another penalty which Riddell slotted easily between the posts.
Cockerels scrum-half Wickham was outstanding and voted man of the match, but was replaced by late in the game by Paddy Hebblethwaite who continued in the same vein as ‘Gate saw out what was in the end a comfortable success.