Harrogate RUFC suffered a 48-13 defeat at National Two North leaders Caldy, on Saturday.
In a top versus bottom of the table clash, the final scoreline reflected the clubs’ respective league positions, however, Dave Doherty’s Cockerels will feel hard done to after producing a decent performance, albeit one undermined by a number of unforced errors.
Harrogate’s excellent pack delivered a constant stream of good ball, resulting in long periods of flowing attacking rugby.
Unfortunately for the visitors these too often ended with a midfield inaccuracy.
The other big difference was Caldy’s England international sevens winger and ace poacher, Nick Royle. He seized on and attacked from anything loose and scored two interception tries.
Harrogate opened with some well-constructed attacks and won a good turnover to put pressure on the home line.
Then, after just three minutes, Royle intercepted a loose pass and sprinted clear from 60 metres out. Jack Lavin added the extras for 7-0.
Further even exchanges ended with the hosts coming in from the side at a Harrogate driving maul and Doherty’s penalty reduced the arrears at 7-3.
A crunching Luke Edwards tackle ended a Caldy attack to give the visitors a line-out which they uncharacteristically lost and home hooker Oliver Hearn drove over to score and make it 12-3.
History then repeated itself with another Harrogate build-up ending with a second interception try, this time from the hosts’ opposite winger, Ben Jones.
More home attacks followed, ending in a Lavin converted try and Harrogate counters were well contained by the Caldy defence.
Undeterred, a long Charlie Morgan line kick set up a Cockerels attack and an incisive Keane Naylor break. However the move ended with a knock-on and the only other score of the half was a Lavin penalty to make it 29-3 at the break.
The visitors came out of their blocks after the interval and dominated the third quarter with wave after wave of attacking rugby.
Jonny Giles burst through the midfield with strength and pace and, when the move broke down, Harrogate’s scrum drove Caldy backwards.
Quick hands then gave Harry Barnard enough space on the right wing for him to outstrip the cover and score a 50-metre converted try.
The visitors’ pressure continued, forcing Caldy to concede penalties until they offended within kicking range and Doherty’s penalty closed the gap to 29-13. Harrogate continued to dominate in all areas but Royle then intercepted again, his pace took him clear, and the game was well and truly over at 36-13.
Doherty’s charges kept attacking and sustained pressure on Caldy’s line ended with a relieving penalty and a home line-out from which they counter attacked. Full-back Will Hardy came into the line to make the extra man and scored a fine try in the right corner.
The game’s final converted try came from broken play and some bizarre bounces from kicks which led to Lavin touching down.