Rossendale vs Harrogate
After last week’s below par performance, Harrogate more than matched the Rossendale attritional brand of rugby and, with some exhilarating backs play, outscored them by 5 tries to 2.
The forwards gave the backs consistently good ball with dynamic flanker, James Dyson at the heart of everything. The tight forwards were also outstanding and, in his 150th first team game, Tom Harvey’s wholehearted play epitomised Harrogate’s team spirit. Referee Dave Charlton controlled the game well in the face of the on-field challenges and undisciplined behaviour from some home officials.
Full back Luke Riddell attacked from the kick-off, the Rossendale defence went offside but the goal kick went wide. However, Harrogate weren’t to be denied and, from a great Andy Boyde turnover, the ball was spread and Dyson was in support to score. Rossendale attacks were largely nullified by Harrogate’s pressure defence and a big Harry Barnard break almost led to a score but the ball was held up over the line. Rossendale were still very much in contention and full back, Curtis Strong made a powerful break from defence which took play to the Harrogate line but his support conceded a penalty.
More Harrogate attacks forced the Rossendale defence to go offside but Harrogate “verbals” led to the penalty being reversed and Tom Leader’s kick opened the home account. Prop, Connor Ward then drove strongly to set up another Harrogate attacking driving maul but home scrum half, Harrison Moulding stole the ball and cleared. Harrogate’s hitherto dominant scrum then conceded a strike against the head, the ball was cleared but Sam Brady drove strongly to set up another counter attack. Centre, Nathan Wyman made a big break and, though he was held up short of the line, the ball was recycled and Tom Larder drove over to score a try, converted by Wyman.
More Harrogate attacking pressure ended the half. From a Dyson break, Barnard chipped ahead and the Rossendale clearance led to a Harrogate line-out and driving forward play. Martin Dodds, Brady and Dyson powered through the home defence, Wyman took up the attack and, when his run was checked, Dyson was in support to score and make it 3-17 at the break.
It was business as usual from the restart. Scintillating Harrogate attacks had the home defence at full stretch with Dyson, Brady, Wyman, Larder and Danny Matthews all featuring strongly. A text book backs build up lad to the unmarked Andrew Lawson touching down but it was from a forward pass. From an attacking scrum, the ball was quickly shipped to Riddell whose half break led to a Luke Edwards converted try.
A physically competitive period of play followed. Rossendale pressure forced Harrogate to go offside and concede a penalty but some violent play led to the penalty being reversed and Jacob Kane being dispatched to the sin bin. However, while still down to 14 men, Rossendale mounted pressure and hooker Phil Mills burst through to score.
The Rossendale defence held out well against more Harrogate attacks and, shortly after Kane’s return, another dust up led to Harrogate’s Brady visiting the sin bin. A Rossendale attack ended with a knock-on and Harrogate’s 7 man scrum held firm and the ball was cleared. A searing 60 metres Barnard break took him through the home defence and he finished it with a devastating side-step which left the full back for dead and a try converted by Riddell.
A late Harrogate handling error gave Rossendale possession and flanker Rob Bramhall scored the game’s final try. In stoppage time, Brady stole an attacking home line-out and imperiously shrugged off attempts to dispossess him. The ball was fed to Matthews who kicked it dead to end the game.
Rossendale: Strong, Peel, Waring, Ward, Perry, Leader, Moulding, Walker, Mills, Flynn, Jones, Tomlinson, Bramhall, Lord, Moon. Subs:- George-Nonayne, Frey, Kane
Harrogate: Riddell, Barnard, Wyman, Edwards, Lawson, Fox, Matthews, Driscoll, Larder, Ward, Brady, Boyde, Dodds, Dyson, Harvey. Subs:- Yorke, Maycock, Landsall
Referee: Dave Charlton (North)
Match report by Bill Barrack