Hinckley vs Harrogate
In this scintillating match, Harrogate led until the 79th minute when a Hinckley converted try snatched the narrowest of victories.
As it happened, a Harrogate win wouldn’t have been enough to save them from relegation. Sheffield Tigers’ win at Luctonians ensured that Harrogate will play in National 3 North next season.
After an even opening exchange, Hinckley were penalised for an offside offence and Sam Fox kicked a penalty from the half way line to put Harrogate ahead. Continued Harrogate attacks forced Hinckley into conceding a string of penalties and centre, Joe Wilson was dispatched to the sin bin. Harrogate’s next try came directly from a Hinckley penalty kick which missed touch. Winger, Harry Barnard gathered and ran strongly from deep to set up a Harrogate attack. The ball was recycled inside Harrogate’s half and scrum half, Paddy Hebblethwaite dummied and scorched through the midfield for an outstanding 60 metres converted try.
Two minutes later, Harrogate centre, Ben Dixon gave an almost repeat performance. He intercepted a Hinckley pass inside his own half and outstripped the defence for another converted try to make it 0-17. Hinckley then won a turnover from a Harrogate defensive driving maul and full back, Josh Smith squeezed over in the corner to open their account before the half time break.
Harrogate were penalised for allegedly holding soon after the restart and Wilson’s penalty made it 8-17. The next score came from some individual brilliance from Hinckley’s former All Black winger, Scott Hamilton. His legs obviously aren’t what they used to be but he showed immense skill in gliding through Harrogate’s defence for a converted try to make it 15-17. Harrogate quickly responded with a strong Sam Brady run and converted try and it was 15-24. A Harrogate offside offence then led to a quickly taken penalty which put Wilson into space for his second try which made it 20-24.
A period of Harrogate forward pressure followed with driving play from Tom Harvey and Tim Heaton.. Jonny Coser was halted agonisingly close to the try line but the pressure continued. Hinckley’s defence contained a succession of driving mauls but the pressure had to tell and Sam Brady crashed over for his second converted try and the score was 20-31.. Hinckley then mounted forward pressure and 2nd Row, Ben Marshall’s try brought it to 25-31. Another Hinckley driving maul led to a Ben Avent try and the 79th minute conversion put Hinckley ahead for the first time in the match.
A few minutes of stoppage time remained and Harrogate attacked desperately to try to regain the lead. In the dying seconds, a Fox drop goal attempt just shaved the outside of the post and the game was over.
Hinckley: Smith, Hamilton, Murray, Wilson, Dacey, Rowe, Crocker, S Harvey, Tanner, Peck, Marshall, Fearn, Cox, Avent, Salt. Subs:- Bartlett, Hanson, Branson, Eastgate, Lord
Harrogate: Rosillo, Barnard, Minikin, Dixon, Edwards, Fox, Hebblethwaite, Ward, Larder, Dennis, J Brady,
S Brady, T Harvey, Coser, Heaton. Subs:- Purkiss-McEndoo, Reaveley.
Referee: Neil Chivers (RFU)
Match report by Bill Barrack