Pythons snatch victory from jaws of defeat

Harrogate Pythons left it late to claim victory over Goole
Harrogate Pythons left it late to claim victory over Goole

A Max Sharp try, converted by Ross Fallenstein with just four minutes left on the clock, saw Harrogate Pythons to a 27-26 home win over Goole.

The hosts found themselves trailing by 13 points heading into the final quarter of the game, but managed to pull off an impressive triumph with a pair of late converted tries in their Yorkshire Three encounter.

Despite having a number of players missing from their starting XV, the Pythons started well.

They defended Goole’s early possession well and showed their own intent the first time they got their hands on the ball, Gareth Bass embarking on a powerful run, only to be knocked into touch.

With new hooker Ted Illingworth throwing well into the line-outs, ‘Gate began to enjoy plenty of possession, and following a ruck 5m out, Ivan Drane was first to the ball and darted over on the blind side for a 5-0 lead after eight minutes.

Goole came back straight away and forced an overlap for their speedy winger, who burst through the tackle of full-back Jake Harland and somehow managed to avoid the touchline to score under the posts.

The conversion was added and the visitors sezied a 7-5 advantage.

Goole then forced two attacking lineouts which were both stolen by Ian Binns, leading to a massive clearance kick from Ross Fallenstein.

Moving back into away territory, the Pythons forced an overlap of their own, but Drane’s pass went agonizingly behind Andy Quirk.

A Goole player then took out Steve Kirkpatrick at the breakdown but Fallenstein’s penalty attempt was pulled wide.

As half-time approached, ‘Gate found themselves on the back foot and only a ferocious double tackle on the line by number eight John Reah kept Goole at bay.

Trailing by two points at the interval, Pythons coach Dan Bird made several changes, and his side responded early in the second period by going through several phases until Quirk was given the chance to break before being tacked into touch.

Goole were then penalised for offside at the breakdown and Fallenstein slotted over the kick to nudge his side back in front at 8-7 on 48 minutes.

The Pythons were then penalised themselves at the kick-off, and Goole put in a cross kick for their winger to chase.

Harland dealt with it but was knocked into touch and was fell foul of the match referee for not releasing the ball to a Goole player.

The resulting penalty was quickly tapped, and with the ‘Gate defence out of position, a visiting man crashed over to score for 12-8.

The hosts returned fire almost immediately as Harland gained possession from the kick off, and Bass was sent away for a blistering run.

The ball was quickly recycled and Sharp jinked his way through the away defenders to touch down out wide, edging the Pythons back into the ascendancy at 13-12 with 57 minutes on the clock.

As ‘Gate attempted to run the ball out of defence from the re-start, Jon Pickard unfortunately knocked-on on his own 22.

Goole played the advantage and went wide to their winger who grabbed the touchdown under the posts. The extras were kicked for 19-13 to the visitors.

From the kick-off, this time it was Goole who decided to run from deep, but by contrast their winger was sent clear to go the length of the field for a try which looked to have put the game beyond the home team at 26-13 on the hour-mark.

In previous seasons, ‘Gate’s heads may well have dropped at this point, but captain Dan Shortman rallied the troops for a fabulous comeback.

The Pythons’ scrum forced a Goole defensive scrum backwards and turned over possession. From the resulting scrum, Bird’s troops marched forward again and Matt Leech broke off to crash over the line.

Fallenstein added the conversion and the Pythons were back in contention at 26-20 with 13 minutes still to play.

Play went from end to end before Goole again attacked from deep, but this time the move broke down and somehow Fallenstein flicked the loose ball up with his boot and into the hands of Sharp who again stepped his way over the try-line.

With the pressure on, Fallenstein slotted the conversion for 27-26 in the 76th minute.

This Saturday sees the Pythons travel to Northallerton.