Harrogate vs Wilmslow
Wilmslow kicked off against a strong wind, Harrogate knocked on and this kick-started a terrible first half performance from the hosts.
A workmanlike Wilmslow side was good value for their 10-12 lead at the break. What Doc Doherty said to Harrogate at half time would probably not be printable but it certainly worked. Wilmslow failed to score in the second half and were completely outclassed.
Wilmslow’s first score followed an attacking line-out after Harrogate had been penalised. No8, Alex Taylor score from a driving maul. At this stage, Harrogate were second best in almost everything including scrummaging and the visiting pressure continued. Luke Edwards was yellow carded for a high tackle but the home defence managed to cope with the Wilmslow pressure during his absence. However, just before his return, Andy Boyde joined him in the sin bin but Oli Rosillo made a searing break from defence and Tim Heaton was in support to level the scores with a try in the right corner.
Just before Boyde’s return, more Wilmslow pressure led to a try from 2nd Row, Mike Clifford, converted by Bob McCallum. Stung by this reversal, Harrogate were coming more into the game. 2nd Row Liam Hucknall made some strong runs and backs Andrew Lawson and Nathan Wyman were a constant threat. The pressure on the Wilmslow was relieved when scrum half, Sean Street gathered a loose ball and ran almost the length of the field before being forced into touch.
Then came the 2nd half transformation. Wilmslow went offside after prolonged Harrogate attacks and Aarin Yorke scored from a driving maul after an attacking line-out. The Wilmslow restart kick went straight into touch, indicative of the pressure they were under. A powerful Harrogate scrum drove over the Wilmslow line but the “try” was disallowed. Winger Harry Jukes gathered a Wilmslow clearance and his pace took him past several defenders. Lawson was in support to score a try and Wyman’s conversion put Harrogate 17-12 ahead. A Boyde half break created space for Edwards to exploit and pass to Wyman for another converted try.
Wilmslow counter attacked but, from a Harrogate turnover, the ball was released to Lawson who broke the cover and gave a scoring pass to Rosillo. Heaton gathered the Wilmslow restart and ran strongly into their half to set up another Harrogate attack. Before the match, your reporter was pressurised by the Tim Heaton fan club (one member) to highlight his first start of the season. However, well as he played, he was well supported by flanker Tom Young and he was outshone in the back row by James Millington who had an outstanding game.
Forwards and backs were now combining well to further stretch the opposition. Harrogate were now dominating the set pieces and the speedy inventive back play was nothing short of exhilarating. The bench substitutions (Richard Bland, Luke Riddell and Ewan Miller) all contributed fully to the team effort.
Three more tries followed. A Lawson midfield interception led to him breaking the cover and touching down under the posts. Wyman converted and penetrative Bland drives led to a Millington converted try. In the final move of the match, a skilful interchanger of passes between Jukes and Danny Matthews led to Matthews scoring the final try.
Harrogate: Rosillo, Lawson, Wyman, Edwards, Jukes, Hampson, Matthews, Driscoll, Yorke, Maycock, Hucknall, Boyde, Millington, Young, Heaton. Subs:- Bland, Miller,Riddell
Wilmslow: Row, McCurdock, Harding, Kennedy, Whitman, McCallum, Street, Evans, Donaldson, R Taylor, Shufflebottom, Clifford, Hewitt, Graham, A Taylor. Subs:- Meek, Nicholson, Masters
Referee: Elliott Lewis (Northern)
Match report by Bill Barrack