Last-minute try earns Harrogate RUFC crucial bonus point in battle for pole position

Leading by 11 points with less than two minutes remaining, Harrogate RUFC figured that they had nothing to lose.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 9:16 pm
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 9:18 pm
Oli Rosillo goes over the line to register Harrogate RUFC's fourth try against Blackburn. Picture: Richard Bown

While the Aces had already done enough to see off visiting Blackburn and earn a 15th North Premier victory of the season, there was still the matter of trying to secure a much-needed bonus point.

Overtaken at the summit by title rivals Macclesfield last time out, Dave Doherty and his players knew that the only way to ensure that they didn't lose any more ground in the race for top spot was to try and register a fourth try of the match.

Unfortunately for them, they found themselves pinned deeped in their own territory and with a driving wind doing nothing to aid their cause.

"We'd asked the referee and he said that there were 90 seconds left," Doherty revealed.

"We knew we had to try and get the fourth try so we went for it. When the ball came to me following the scrum I was actually behind our try-line, but after a double-miss-pass-move we were on our way."

Eight phases later, having dragged the Blackburn defence from one side of the field to the other as they probed for an opening, 'Gate eventually struck gold.

Oli Rosillo received the ball in a central possession and managed to break the away line before stepping on the gas and just about getting over the whitewash ahead of a pair of covering defenders.

"I was massively impressed with how we kept our composure so late in the game, went through the phases and stretched Blackburn," Doherty added.

"They were showing signs of fatigue and when that opportunity arose in the middle of the field, Oli Rosillo displayed some amazing footwork to work himself the opening.

"The finish was pure class. It was a fantastic break after 80 minutes on a very heavy pitch, but we've got players in our side who are capable of that kind of magic.

"Honestly, these kind of moments can make the difference at the end of the season. It's not just the extra point and the fact that it means we've kept pace with Macclesfield and Blaydon at the top of the table.

"The boys were elated after the game and we'll carry that positivity into our next fixture now."

As well as being impressed with the way that his side finished the match, Doherty was also thrilled by Harrogate's start to proceedings.

"We were 14-0 up fairly early on and I don't think Blackburn knew what had hit them," he added.

"The way that we started was exactly what I'd asked the boys to deliver. We learned our lessons after what happened at Macclesfield in our previous game.

"I want the boys to play with freedom, but everything has to be based around our work-rate and making sure that we go into collisions with sufficient intent.

"These things were sadly lacking against Macclesfield, but we got them right from the very first minute on Saturday and that is pleasing to see.

"The next step is to start trying to sustain the good spells that we have in games for longer. We play brilliant rugby in patches and I want to see more of that."

'Gate took the lead early on in Saturday's contest when Sam Fox broke a tackle and touched down under the posts before adding the extras himself.

Harry Jukes was then denied what appeared a certain try by a high tackle, leading to the award of a penalty try that put the hosts 14-0 up.

Sam Russell went over to open the Blackburn account before half-time and Leon Fifield’s penalty narrowed the gap to six points shortly after the resumption.

The all-important next score when to 'Gate, however, Martin Dodds arriving in support to finish off following Brandon Hannam's surge forwards.

The Aces remained 19-8 ahead until the closing moments when Rosillo secured his team a bonus point, ensuring that Harrogate stay second in the table ahead of this weekend's trip to Alnwick.