Pythons fight back to claim narrow win

A Harrogate Pythons attack is snuffed out by the Leeds Modernians defence
A Harrogate Pythons attack is snuffed out by the Leeds Modernians defence

Harrogate Pythons RUFC moved up a place to eighth in the Yorkshire Three standings courtesy of a narrow victory on the road at Leeds Modernians.

Dan Bird’s side made the trip with a much-changed squad from the previous weekend, with Alex Booth, Jon Wiggins and Dan Sidwell stepping up from the 2nd XV.

The visitors kicked off and settled quickly, enjoying some early possession. Despite this, they gave away a couple of penalties inside the first 10 minutes and soon found themselves 3-0 down.

Another penalty saw Modernians double their lead and Jack Clarkson was then sin-binned for having his hands in a ruck.

Although a man down, the Pythons enjoyed a period of pressure and Ian Binns touched down, only for his ‘try’ to be disallowed for a knock-on.

Clarkson returned to the fray and as a result the away scrum, already in the ascendancy, really began to turn the screw.

From a solid attacking platform, the ball was sent wide to Marcus Fotherby who crashed over in the corner for 6-5 in the 32nd minute.

The Pythons pushed hard for a second score and continued to dominate at the scrum, but when the ball was hacked clear by the hosts it led to their first try of the afternoon.

Andy Quirk slipped when turning to cover the ball and Mods retrieved it and went through the phases to score out wide for an 11-5 half-time advantage.

The visitors started the second period in sloppy fashion and were soon 14-5 down after giving away another penalty.

The Mods were on a roll, with their number eight causing all sorts of problems, but Bird’s men weathered the storm then got themselves back in the game when Jon Pickard crashed over following a line-out.

Ivan Drane added the extras for 14-12.

The hosts then had a man yellow-carded and another attacking line out was again secured by the reliable Fotherby, and Steve Smith drove over from close range for a 17-14 lead after 63 minutes.

The Pythons looked to have secured the game when a Mods infringement allowed Drane to slot a long-range penalty which extended the lead to six points after 75 minutes.

Modernians weren’t finished, however, and their pwerful number eight touched down after a series of forward drives.

Crucially, the conversion was missed, and despite finishing the game without the sin-binned Smith, the Pythons held on to win 20-19.