Vale of Lune vs Harrogate
With a gale force wind behind them, Vale had established a 35-17 lead by half time.
This was in spite of Harrogate’s forward dominance though some loose back play gifted points to Vale’s speedy backs. For the second successive week, the game was marred by the unwelcome spectacle of uncontested scrums and, also for the second successive week, it became clear that some referees have a mixed understanding of the regulations appertaining to the removal of players when uncontested scrums are “called”.
Harrogate’s pack won good possession from the start and the backs mounted apparently promising attacks. However, Harrogate lost possession in midfield and Vale full back, Chris Ramwell snapped up the loose ball to sprint clear for a fine try converted by Damon Hall. Worse was to come for Harrogate. An attempted miss pass was snapped up by the outstanding Hall whose pace took him clear for a 40 metres converted try.
Harrogate, at last, were able to respond positively. Scrum half, Danny Matthews made a half break and slipped the ball to winger Harry Barnard. Barnard broke strongly on the right and the pack was in support when the break was checked. Good ball was delivered to Matthews who darted over for a try converted by Nathan Wyman. Vale then secured possession from an attacking line-out following a Harrogate offside offence. An excellent Hall break was supported by 2nd Row James Robinson who powered over for another converted try.
Harrogate won possession from the restart and mounted prolonged forward pressure on the Vale line. A driving maul took them over the goal line but they lost possession and Vale cleared. Harrogate regained possession from the Vale line-out and Steve Maycock drove over to score. At this stage, it’s appropriate to mention how Harrogate benefited from the return to fitness of props Maycock and Andy Boyde. Hooker, Aarin Yorke benefited from this support to have another fine overall game and James Millington, who’d moved from flanker, quickly established an effective 2nd row partnership with Sam Brady. Flankers Martin Dodds and Tom Young by locked by evergreen Tim Heaton at No8 and, later in the match, Guy Coser came off the bench to show how much he’d been missed during his long injury absence.
Despite all just written, Vale’s next converted try was scored by prop Mike Bradshaw who drove strongly through a ruck. A powerful Millington break triggered Harrogate’s response. Barnard ran strongly to carry on the move, the ball was spread left and Boyde crashed over to score. Another converted Vale try made the half time score 35-17----the final pass seemed to be forward but the try was given.
With the wind behind them in the 2nd half, Harrogate expected to further utilise their scrummaging dominance and control the rest of the game. However, the wind dropped and, more importantly, Vale prop casualties led to unedifying uncontested scrums for most of the half.
Winger, Andrew Lawson intercepted from an attempted Vale break out and the counter attack was carried on by Coser and Heaton. Harrogate attacked consistently but it took 18 minutes to open their 2nd half account. Vale repeatedly offended at Harrogate forward pressure and a penalty try was conceded. Still more Harrogate pressure followed and Vale’s clearances were repeatedly gathered by full back Oli Rosillo whose elusive running set up further attacks. Quickly recycled ball reached Lawson who outstripped the defence for a converted try. A Vale penalty goal, their only score of the half, followed to make it 38-31.
Although not allowed to scrummage any more, Harrogate dominated all phases for the rest of the match. Vale defended desperately against repeated Harrogate driving mauls and eventually conceded a yellow card. Another driving maul followed, Millington scored and the conversion levelled the scores. An attempted Vale counter attack was snuffed out by a great Maycock turnover, the ball was spread to Lawson who raced clear for the final converted try. Harrogate’s main concern now is that Boyde, who has been the linchpin of the pack all season, had to leave the field near the end with a suspected broken wrist.
Vale of Lune: Ramwell, Steele, Hall, Owens, Jacques, Briggs, Swarbrick, Tagg, Powers, Bradshaw, Fellows, Robinson, Wallbank, Ayrton, Fourie. Subs:- Hesketh, Foxcroft, Hunt.
Harrogate: Rosillo, Barnard, Wyman, Riddell, Lawson, Cookland, Matthews, Boyde, Yorke, Maycock, Brady, Millington, Dodds, Young, Heaton. Subs:- Bland, Coser, Hampson
Referee: Tom Hurdley (Northern)
Match report by Bill Barrack