Pythons left cheesed off after Wensleydale defeat

Harrogate Pythons' Max Sharp makes a break for the Wensleydale try- line. Picture: Caught Light Photography
Harrogate Pythons' Max Sharp makes a break for the Wensleydale try- line. Picture: Caught Light Photography

Harrogate Pythons RUFC were left disappointed after a combination of the weather and visitors Wensleydale put a dampener on their first league outing at Station View.

The Yorkshire Three outfit relocated to Harrogate Railway Athletic FC’s ground for the 2017/18 campaign and were looking to build on a fine away win over Knottingley on the opening day of the season.

However, shortly before play was scheduled to begin, a torrential thunderstorm began and kick-off was delayed by 10 minutes as the hosts attempted to remove standing water from the pitch.

It was not just the players who suffered, as a crowd of around 200 spectators – many of whom were attending a Ladies Day organised by the Pythons’ social committee – sought to avoid the deluge.

When the game eventually kicked off, Wensleydale were out of the blocks quickly, securing an early turnover.

The writing was on the wall when the visitors’ pack took the first Pythons scrum against the head then worked their way up the pitch with a series of pick and drives.

They were met by some ferocious home defence, led by Jack Clarkson, but Harrogate were eventually penalised, only for the resulting kick at goal to be pulled wide of the posts.

Another penalty was awarded soon afterwards and this time ‘Dale made no mistake with the kick for a 3-0 lead in the 18th minute.

It was then the Pythons’ turn to attack with Ivan Drane and Max Sharp combining well in midfield before a loose clearance kick was returned by Gareth Drane and the Dale receiver was crunched by Matt Leach and Ross Fallenstein.

Unfortunately for the Pythons, Fallenstein broke his ankle in two places in the collision and had to be taken to hospital.

Another Harrogate infringement in midfield led to a ‘Dale penalty which was expertly converted from the 10-metre line for 6-0.

A kick through by a visiitng player was then touched down behind the home try-line but the referee decided the ball had been carried over and awarded an attacking five-metre scrum.

The ‘Dale pack went for the pushover, the scrum disintegrated and the referee awarded a penalty-try plus a yellow card for prop Nathan Wake to leave the Pythons trailing 13-0 at half-time.

With the sun coming out for the second period, the game opened up and both Andy Quirk and Matt Halpin made breaks for the away line.

Neither man was able to get their side on the scoreboard, however, and the ‘Dale pack got hold of the ball and managed to run down the clock with their lead still intact.