Poor start proves costly for Harrogate at Sedgley Park
A slow start from Harrogate RUFC that saw them concede two early tries proved costly as they slipped to a narrow defeat at Sedgley Park in National Two North.
After a slack opening 10 minutes, Dave Doherty’s men found themselves 14-0 down, but the two converted tries that the high-flying home side registered during that period turned out to be their only scores of the day.
Harrogate were the better side for the rest of the match but only managed to score seven points, and alhough this earned them a valuable losing bonus point, results elsewhere keep them at the bottom of the table behind Wharfedale on score difference.
From the kick-off, Park flanker Max Skofic broke from an attacking line-out and provided a scoring pass to the supporting Matt Riley. Steve Collins’ conversion made the score 7-0.
The home pressure continued, but Harrogate’s defence started to get their act together and strong tackling from Harry Barnard, Danny Matthews and Luke Edwards kept the hosts at bay.
However, a penalty offence led to an attacking Sedgley line-out and a driving maul which resulted in another converted try.
Shortly afterwards, lock Sam Brady was yellow carded for a defensive illegality and Harrogate found themselves under serious pressure.
Harrogate had outscrummaged Park up util this point but, understandably, Sedgley opted for a scrum from this penalty.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Harrogate’s remaining seven-man pack continued to dominate and withstood the attack.
The front row of Connor Ward, Tom Larder and Will Dennis was in complete control throughout and this superiority continued when later substitutions replaced Larder and Dennis with Ben Reaveley and Aarin Yorke.
With the visiting pack soon in complete control of all the exchanges, Harrogate began to dominate possession.
An attacking Park cross-kick was brilliantly taken by Barnard on his own goalline, but he was tackled in mid-air and Harrogate cleared their lines from the ensuing penalty.
A-40 metre midfield break from Edwards was well-supported and a try seemed certain and lthough a knock-on ended that move, the Harrogate pressure continued. A 30-metre driving maul then took play to the home goalline and, in the last move of the half, Larder powered over for a try that was converted by Doherty.
Though scoreless, the second period was far from uneventful.
Inspirational Jake Brady captaincy kept Harrogate’s forwards in control with the Coser brothers and Tom Harvey winning repeated turnovers.
Robust Sedgley defence led to some heated exchanges but referee, Mick Harris managed to keep things under control.
A losing bonus point seemed to be scant reward for such effort but even that was threatened in the final moments of the match.
A dazzling run from substitute home back Rob Holloway took him past several defenders before he was eventually tackled and the final whistle brough proceedings to a close.