Something must give with end of season fixtures, says Harrogate chief

Harrogate director of rugby Mike Aspinall fears that the number of postponed fixtures will lead to a disjointed end of season.

Thursday, 10th March 2016, 9:56 am
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2016, 10:01 am
Luke Edwards against Luctonians last year. He will return for Harrogate at the weekend (Photo: Richard Bown)

Harrogate’s match at National Two North league leaders Macclesfield was called off at the weekend, a fourth match to fall victim to the weather this season.

Gate’s campaign has already been extended by two weeks with the league rearranging the home clash against Sedgley Park for May 7 and the visit to Macclesfield for May 14.

Both opponents could have already secured promotion when the rescheduled games come around, which Aspinall believes could threaten the fixtures altogether.

With their involvement as defending champions of the Yorkshire Cup still ongoing, Gate face the prospect of playing four matches in May or squeezing games into midweek.

Harrogate’s much-anticipated clash against Otley on April 30 has now been changed into a league and cup double, with the winners progressing to the quarter-final of the competition ‘Gate won last season.

“Something has to give at some stage,” Aspinall said.

“Macclesfield are likely to be promoted regardless of that fixture and I would be surprised if Sedgley Park haven’t already secured their play-off spot.

“It will be interesting to see what happens closer to the time.

“If I was the Macclesfield coach and I was promoted by April 30, would I want my boys to go over to a motivated Harrogate side on May 14? No, I would want them resting up before a tough pre-season preparing for National One.”

Harrogate still have nine fixtures to fulfil, with their first coming up against late bloomers Luctonians at Rudding Lane this weekend.

Lucts have transformed a woeful start to the season with eight wins from their last 11 games and pose a significant danger to top five hunting Harrogate.

“They have a habit of doing this,” said Aspinall.

“They don’t start the season very well but they really come back strong and climb out of potential trouble.

Luke Edwards will return on the wing for the unavailable Sam Bottomley while Tom Harvey and Tim Heaton are both absent.

Sam Brady returns after suffering from concussion but faces competition for a starting place from Andy Boyde and Guy Coser.

Aspinall added: “The guys were in a really good place to play last weekend.

“Our prepping for Luctonians has been a little less specific but they are a team that are winning a lot of rugby games so the players must be right up there with their performing levels. If we don’t match Luctonians’ industry, then we will lose.”