Pythons suffer agonising home loss after missing late kick at goal

Harrogate Pythons' Gareth Drane in action against Sheffield Medics
Harrogate Pythons' Gareth Drane in action against Sheffield Medics

Harrogate Pythons suffered an agonising home defeat to Sheffield Medics, losing out by the narrowest of margins after missing a late conversion that would have won them the game.

The visitors were quick out of the blocks in Saturday’s Yorkshire Three clash at Station View and looked dangerous until their momentum was stopped in its tracks by a thumping John Reah tackle in the midfield.

The Pythons then drove the Medics backward in the first scrum of the afternoon, allowing Gareth Drane to break from the base and put Jon Pickard away.

Medics eventually brought him to ground but were penalised at the breakdown and the hosts kicked to touch.

From the resulting line-out, clean ball from Hugh Tatlow set up a driving maul that was stopped by the posts, however Ivan Drane exploited the blind side with a long miss pass to Ollie Wheatley who touched down out wide.

Ivan Drane added the extras to put his side 7-0 up after just eight minutes.

With the Pythons dominating in the set-piece, Max Sharp cut clean through the centre of the pitch but hesitated as he waited for support with just the opposing full-back to beat and was eventually penalised for holding on.

A Harrogate line-out was then stolen by Medics but their winger was smashed into touch by Tatlow.

The referee brought play back for a Pythons offside offence, however, and a Sheffield man booted over the three points for 7-3.

From a scrum on halfway, number eight Reah made one of his trademark breaks and appeared to be cantering in under the posts.

He was however somehow stopped on the line and Medics dotted the ball down to concede a five-metre scrum.

The visitors’ scrum held firm on this occasion and they were able to relieve the pressure as the Pythons were penalised at the breakdown.

A loose clearance kick was then returned by Pickard and Medics were subsequently penalised under their own posts.

The Pythons opted for another scrum and Ivan Drane again attacked the blind side but was stopped on the line.

The ball was recycled and ‘Gate attemped to ship it wide but the pass was intercepted by a Medics centre who went the length of the pitch to touch down, making the half-time score 10-7 to Sheffield, against the run of play.

Somehow finding themselves behind, the pressure applied by the Pythonsat the start of the second period was immense, but time after time they were met by some heroic defending by the Medics.

Andy Quirk was put through by Ivan Drane but his pass was deliberately knocked-on by a defender who received a yellow card.

Again Gate opted for a scrum and Reah broke for the line and appeared to have scored, but the referee ruled a Medics foot had got under the ball.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, the visitors managed to break upfield and won a penalty that was kicked to extend the away lead to 13-7 on the hour-mark.

The Pythons regained possession from the re-start and the Medics were penalised, but Ivan Drane pulled his kick at goal across the posts.

More relentless pressure led to another yellow card for the away team and an inside pass from Ivan Drane saw Liam Kernoghan stopped just short and his attempted offload then fell to a Sheffield player.

The home pressure finally told when Quirk timed his run into the line perfectly and soared over near the corner.

The conversion to win the game was agonisingly pulled just wide of the uprights, meaning that Dan Bird’s men still trailed by a point with four minutes remaining.

The Pythons managed to create one final chance to snatch the spoils when Matt Halpin skinned his opposite number down the flank, but he was caught by the Medics cover and then fell foul of the referee for holding on.

Back in possession, the visitors kicked the ball into touch allowing the man in the middle to blow his whistle to end the game with their slender advantage still intact.