Sandal vs Harrogate
By Peter Kitching
With a seemingly comfortable 3-19 half time lead, a bonus point victory for Harrogate was on the cards.
However, Sandal had the slope advantage in the second half, used it well and Harrogate were hanging on for dear life at the end. Both defences were aided by the referee ignoring the offside laws about backs’ defences from set pieces.
Early promising Harrogate attacks ended with them being penalised and they conceded another penalty during Sandal’s first real attack. James Ellar’s successful kick made it 3-0. Harrogate had the edge up front and a great Martin Dodds line-out take led to a 20 metres driving maul and debutant flanker, James Dyson crashed over to score a try converted by Sam Fox.
Harrogate made a mess of regaining possession from the restart kick but won turnover ball and continued to attack. A long Andrew Lawson break took him into the home 22 and, when he was checked, centre took his pass at speed to scythe through for another debutant’s converted try.
The Harrogate front five exerted consistent scrum pressure leading to untidy ball for scrum half Will Morecombe. Good line-out ball resulted in successive driving mauls and Connor Ward powered over to make it 3-19 at the break.
Sandal won good turnover ball at the start of the second half forcing Harrogate to defend. Their excellent full back, Jack Townend made several telling runs from defence and Harrogate eventually conceded another penalty making it 6-19. A Harrogate high tackle was penalised leading to a home attacking line-out, a driving maul and a try for Tom Fountain. Excellent line-out work from Sam Brady and Dodds created more Harrogate driving mauls forcing Sandal to go offside and the penalty kick made it 11-22. However, the Sandal pressure continued and Declan Thompson scored from yet another driving maul to make it 18-22 with 20 minutes to go and Sandal in the ascendency.
Dogged Harrogate defence kept Sandal out but with 5 minutes remaining, Brady was yellow carded for a defensive illegality. This gave Sandal weight advantage in the 3 remaining scrums but Harrogate’s doughty seven men held them out.
Sandal: Townend, Martin, Frewin, Allott, Fawcett, Ellar, Morecombe, Elder, Heron, Baxter, D Thompson, A Thompson, Hopkinson, Stewart, Carolan. Subs:- Jackson, Fountain, Cook
Harrogate: Rosillo, Lawson, Wyman, Fox, Barnard, Riddell, Matthews, Driscoll, Larder, Ward, Brady, Boyde, Harvey, Dyson, Dodds. Subs:- Yorke, Edwards, Watkinson
Referee: Kieron Henry (Northern Division)
Match report by Bill Barrack