Stay focused on the job: Siswick

NADV. Harrogate RUFC player Rob Almond right, in action at the Rugby Lions match. 110110AR2pic1.
NADV. Harrogate RUFC player Rob Almond right, in action at the Rugby Lions match. 110110AR2pic1.

HARROGATE hit the road to Luctonians tomorrow (3pm), bidding to bounce back after Saturday’s 42-26 defeat at Kendal.

The Claro Road men will want a swift return to form in National Two North in what has been a very healthy season on the pitch overall.

Off it however, the club is fighting for its very life.

Landlords Crest terminated a rolling five-year lease last week, and served Harrogate with a two-month eviction notice to vacate Claro Road by June 1.

The developer previously rejected the club’s offer of £1.043million to buy back the land sold in 1999.

In a statement to members, chairman Paul Barnard confirmed the committee had “reached the end of the road” in its attempts to negotiate an agreement with Crest.

He said the club must now prepare to leave its home of 115 years, unless Crest reconsider their decision and table a new agreement.

Barnard revealed: “We have no capacity to plan for next season; playing or financial.”

A meeting for members will be held on May 3 to discuss the latest developments.

Despite such bleak circumstances and with more than a month to go until the end of the season, team manager Graham Siswick said the team are simply getting on with the job in hand.

“We just have to get on with playing - that’s what we’re there for,” he said.

“All we can do is focus on the game in hand each week, and let the chairman and committee handle the dealings with Crest.

“Obviously it’s something we could do without but we have to stay as professional and focused as we can.”

The team face a five-and-a-half hour journey to Luctonians tomorrow, boosted by the return of skipper Ed Smithies, player-coach Mike Aspinall, second row Alex Rieder and centre Jamie Broadley.

Sam Bottomley misses out due to a broken nose and concussion received at Kendal. Second row Gareth Lodge is unvailable.

“We beat them 30-29 with a late score but it was very close,” said Siswick.

“Luctonians have a formidable set of forwards and it’s a long way to go, but it’s very much rugby country down there so should be an enjoyable day, albeit a very difficult game.”

The first team will be eager to hear the result back at Claro Road, as the Georgians do battle with Wharfedale 2nds in a bid to decide the Yorkshire Second Team League title (3pm).

The Georgians are unbeaten in 17 games.

Harrogate missed four key players at Kendal but got off to a great start when Kyle Dench’s backs move reached second row Gareth Lodge who powered over from 35 metres for a try converted by Rob Almond.

Kendal hit back with a Mark Ireland penalty before a break by centre Ben Robinson allowed prop Iain Hudson to score a try converted by Ireland.

‘Gate lost centre Sam Bottomley to injury, replaced by Luke Edwards, and while the back looked dangerous, several try-scoring opportunities were lost to passing errors.

Kendal then pushed on through tries by Liam Hayton and Duncan Green, Ireland converting the first before adding another penalty.

The visitors narrowed the gap with a converted try by hooker Aarin Yorke from a driving maul just before the break as the sides went in at 25-14.

Hayton added another try after the restart but Harrogate responded with a dazzling Toby Quarendon run out of defence and Almond crossed the line.

Ireland tagged another penalty and Kendal furthered their lead with a try from winger Dan Lowther.

But in the last move of the match, Harrogate turned a Kendal defensive scrum and were awarded the put-in at the next one. Ryan Peacey drove from the base of the scrum to score and another Almond conversion ended the match.

“It was disappointing, we missed too many tackles and dropped a lot of ball,” said Siswick.

“We came away with a bonus point but after a dream start the margin was too great. We need to be more potent in defence and attack.”

Rob Almond and Mike Bradshaw link up with Yorkshire U-20s against Gloucester tomorrow, bidding for a place at the county championship finals at Twickenham in May.