Hull vs Harrogate
By Peter Kitching
This high quality, exciting match, which was excellently refereed, was a tremendous advertisement for Level 5 rugby.
Harrogate seemed to have the edge throughout but a succession of injuries forced them to empty their replacements bench and they only had 14 players for the last 25 minutes. Hull were only 15-14 ahead at the start of this period and two narrowly missed Harrogate penalties would have put them ahead. In what was effectively the last move of the match, Hull centre, Alex Heard, outpaced Harrogate’s defence for a well taken breakaway try.
Harrogate attacks put Hull under severe pressure from the start. Injury absences have weakened Harrogate’s scrummaging recently but the restored trio of Charley Purkiss-McEndoo, Steve Maycock and Connor Ward absolutely dominated today. A Harrogate knock-on led to a Hull defensive scrum but a powerful Harrogate drive won a penalty. Harrogate opted for another scrum, Hull were penalised again and Harrogate chose to go for yet another scrum. Hull were penalised for a third scrummaging offence in the red zone and the penalty try put Harrogate 0-7 ahead.
With concerted attacks, Hull proceeded to show that their top of the League position was no fluke. The Harrogate defence was forced to concede a penalty which resulted in an attacking Hull line-out. A driving maul was set up and No8, Joe Stafford drove over to score.
Luke Edwards then became Harrogate’s first serious casualty. He’d just regained fitness from a troublesome groin injury but sustained a shoulder injury in a hard tackle and had to leave the field. Winger, Andrew Lawson scythed through the home midfield and was only stopped by a borderline high tackle. Thankfully, he recovered after treatment and demonstrated this with an excellent high take and half break which was supported by a strong Maycock driving run.
Harrogate were still dominating possession but Hull were making excellent use of what ball they had. A Harrogate driving maul from defence was halted by a tip tackle and Hull’s Paul Hamber was yellow carded. A great Ward turnover ended a promising Hull attack and an exciting period of end to end play followed. On the stroke of half time, Hull spread the ball right and a well timed pass put Tomasi Tanumi clear to score in the corner and make it 10-7 at the break.
From the restart, Harrogate almost immediately regained the lead. Harry Barnard jumped high to gather a Danny Matthews cross kick and outstripped despairing tackles to score a 40 metres try, converted by Cail Cookland. Harrogate’s injury toll was mounting and a neck injury to replacement back, Gareth Bass reduced them to 14 men for the rest of the match.
This led to a reversal of the first half situation. It was now Hull who were exerting the pressure and Harrogate who were mounting attacks from limited possession. A powerful Sam Brady drive led to Hull going offside but the penalty attempt shaved the outside of the goalpost. Harrogate’s defence then went offside, the penalty gave Hull an attacking line-out and Ben Winterburn tacked on to the driving maul to score and make it 15-14. Another agonisingly close Harrogate penalty attempt again narrowly shaved the outside of the upright and the game ended with Heard’s try.
Hull: Johnson, Adlard, Heard, Tanumi, Winterburn, Humberstone, Watts, Dias, Rice, Boothman, Hamber, Curry, O’Donnell, Kay, Stafford. Subs:- Hardman, Regardsoe, Harding
Harrogate: Rosillo, Barnard, Riddell, Edwards, Lawson, Cookland, Matthews, Purkiss-McEndoo, Maycock, Ward, Brady, Millington, Watts, G Coser, J Coser. Subs:- Harris, Yorke, Bass
Referee: Dave Charlton (Northern)
Match report by Bill Barrack