Harrogate RUFC made it two wins out of two in National Three North following a 44-21 home success over Sandal.
Matches between the two are traditionally high-scoring affairs and Saturday’s meeting at Rudding Lane was no exception.
Set-piece domination kept Harrogate in control throughout the 80 minutes, allowing their speedy backs the opportunity to strut their stuff.
Home half-backs, Danny Matthews and Luke White made good use of early possession and a White cross-kick just eluded flying winger, Harry Barnard.
Sandal quickly responded and their right winger, Cam Bainbridge ran powerfully before being tackled into touch.
A series of Harrogate driving mauls led to an offside offence by the visitors and White’s penalty kick opened the scoring at 3-0.
From the re-start, Sandal knocked-on and another kick across field from the boot of White was brilliantly taken by Barnard who made ground before delivering a scoring pass to Luke Edwards.
A series of dominant ‘Gate scrums maintained the home pressure and a spell of sustained inter-passing in the backs created space for a Barnard touchdown for 13-0.
It was then the hosts’ turn to knock-on at the re-start, but their forwards drove Sandal backwards at the subsequent scrum and ‘Gate pressure continued.
A Sandal offside offence was then punished by a huge White penalty from 45 metres, making the half-time score 16-0.
The second half began with an even period of play and Sandal attacks forced the Harrogate defence into conceding penalties.
A crunching White tackle ended a powerful forward drive from the visitors but they regained possession and Bainbridge raced in to score a converted try from a Tom Allott chip.
A 30-metre Harrogate driving maul then ended with a knock-on near the away goal-line but unrelenting home pressure continued until Allott intercepted a pass inside his own 22 and ran strongly for a brilliant individual score.
The conversion closed the gap at 16-14, but a period of absolute ‘Gate domination ended any Sandal hopes of a recovery.
Sustained driving mauls were well defended by the away team until Charley Purkiss-McEndoo drove in low to register a converted try for a 23-14 advantage.
Replacement back Oli Rossillo then initiated an attack on the right and the ball was recycled left for opposite winger Andrew Lawson to burst through the defence and gather his own chip forwards to score under the posts.
Still more home attacks followed and Edwards made a midfield break then chipped ahead for fellow centre Noel Minikin to gather and finish for 37-14.
Barnard’s strong running featured strongly throughout the match so it was fitting that he should score Harrogate’s final try of the afternoon.
Sandal attacked from a quickly-taken penalty but the hosts won turnover ball, which was passed to Barnard who ran in a spectacular 80-metre converted try.
The visitors continued to compete to the end and, in injury-time, substitute forward Dom Walsh went over the line for a consolation effort.
Next up for Dave Doherty’s Aces is a trip to Wirral on Saturday, 3pm kick-off.