Gate throw away lead in defeat to Sale

Harry Barnard scored Harrogate's only try in their home defeat to Sale. Picture: Richard Bown
Harry Barnard scored Harrogate's only try in their home defeat to Sale. Picture: Richard Bown

Harrogate RUFC led at the interval against high-flying Sale, but finished on the wrong end of a 21-10 scoreline after gifting their visitors two second-half tries.

Dave Doherty’s side started Saturday’s National Two North clash well and opened the scoring after good scrum ball was quickly spread to Oli Rosillo.

His outside break found opposite winger Harry Barnard in support, and the latter finished off an excellent team try, converted by Doherty for 7-0.

The home pressure, built on good scrummaging, continued, and forced second-placed Sale into conceding a penalty which Doherty landed to take the score to 10-0 after 15 minutes.

Harrogate continued to have the edge with scrum-half Danny Matthews’ kicking from the base keeping the visitors on the back foot.

However, after 20 minutes play, the Cockerels’ number nine had to leave the field with an eye injury. Substitute Will Morecombe proved an able replacement, though Matthew’s doggedness was sadly missed.

Sale then scored almost immediately after Matthews’ exit, centre Jack Moorhouse breaking the Harrogate midfield cover for an excellent individual try, converted by Liam McGovern.

The remainder of the half was played out in fairly even fashion, and no more points were scored, meaning that the hosts went into the break with a narrow 10-7 advantage.

The second period opened with a series of atypical Harrogate errors.

Good line-out ball was surrendered when the Sale pack was allowed through a gap. A bad knock-on from a counter-attack then saw the ball go loose before it was snapped up by Moorhouse for a converted try and the away team led for the first time at 14-10.

Minutes later, Sale stand-off Chris Johnson picked up another Harrogate defensive knock-on for another converted try.

Although this was the final score of the match, plenty of action was to follow, with attacks from both sides well contained by two solid defences.

The hosts built forward momentum from increasingly good scrum ball, and were camped on the away line for the final five minutes of the match.

Sale were penalised twice and, each time Harrogate opted for a scrum. Eventually, the home scrum fell foul of referee Mr Rozier and the visitors were able to clear.

Doherty’s troops then won turnover ball and launched a counter raid through their backs, but this was fittingly ended by another knock-on and the final whistle brought the match to a close.

The men from Rudding Lane remain 11th in the National Two North standings despite the defeat, as the five sides below them in the table all lost their respective fixtures.

Next up for Harrogate is a Yorkshire Cup quarter-final at home to North One East leaders Pocklington on Saturday, 2pm kick-off.