Harrogate vs Kirkby Lonsdale
A prop/hooker injury crisis led to Harrogate having to field an understrength front row and this was compounded by 2 further prop injuries before half time.
Uncontested scrums had to follow which ended the game as a meaningful contest. It also meant that Harrogate had to remove another player for the rest of the game and a second half yellow card reduced them to 13 players for ten crucial minutes. Harrogate did have the consolation of a four try bonus point but we can’t get away from the fact that Kirkby Lonsdale were the better side on the day and thoroughly deserved their win.
Although the scrum was under pressure from the start, No8, Tim Heaton was able to deliver good ball under pressure and Harrogate mounted attacks. However, a loose backs pass was intercepted by KL winger, Harry Huddleston who raced clear to score. This seemed like a temporary aberration but worse was to come. Successive KL offsides led to penalties and Harrogate attacks but they lost possession and the ball was quickly moved to the other KL winger, Harry Ralston who scored a fine try.
Good Harrogate back row work led to James Millington winning turnover ball. Winger Andrew Lawson ran strongly and flanker Martin Dodds was in support to burst through the defence and score a try converted by Nathan Wyman. This made it 7-10 but the pressure was building on the Harrogate scrum and, after 2 red zone collapses, KL were awarded a penalty try to make it 7-17.
Harrogate’s restart kick went straight into touch but they did manage to secure possession and powerful drives from Millington and Sam Brady tested the KL defence. Prop, Evan Woodworth had already had to be replaced and a further injury to Tom Driscoll reduced the game to uncontested scrums. However, the referee didn’t immediately realise that Harrogate should then have been reduced to 14 men and 2 more home tries were scored before the break. A Luke Riddell cross kick was gathered at pace by Harry Barnard and Wyman’s touchline conversion made 14-17. Turnover ball gave Lawson the opportunity to show his pace, score a try and the conversion actually put Harrogate 21-17 ahead at the interval.
The uncontested scrums ruined the match as a meaningful contest but this wasn’t KL’s fault and they rightly took full advantage. Their excellent centre, David Barton made a fine break and full back, Martyn Knapton supported well to score a try, converted by Michael Fearon and deservedly put the visitors ahead. A further converted try followed from Ben Walker and then another penalty try was conceded which also led to Danny Matthews being sin binned. Cail Cookland made a promising debut cameo appearance and scored Harrogate’s fourth try to secure a bonus point.
Harrogate: Rosillo, Lawson, Wyman, Miller, Barnard, Riddell, Matthews, Woodworth, Yorke, Driscoll, Hucknall, Brady, Millington, Dodds, Heaton. Subs:- Young,Bland, Cookland
Kirkby Lonsdale: Knapton, Ralston, Pickthall, Barton, Huddleston, Fearon, Walker, T Thompson, Burtonwood, Schiller, Galbraith, J Thompson, Brown, Storey, Maka. Subs:- Hobbs, Kwiczor, Gore
Referee: Dave Charlton (Northern)
Match report by Bill Barrack