Harrogate vs Hull
By Peter Kitching
Crowned as League winners last week, Hull arrived at Harrogate determined for the victory which would see them set a new Club record of 22 successive wins.
Recent matches between the Clubs have all been desperately close so Hull certainly didn’t regard the win as a foregone conclusion. Predictably this proved to be another desperately close match. Hull were 0-10 ahead at half time but a spirited Harrogate fightback saw them take a 14-10 lead ten minutes after the restart. A Hull penalty try put them 14-17 ahead as full time approached but, in virtually the last move of the match, a converted Harrogate try made the final result 21-17. The enthralled crowd had been treated to a close, competitive, high quality rugby match.
Despite Harrogate’s scrum superiority, Hull had enough possession for their big, talented backs to run riot, as they have done for most of the season. However, Harrogate’s outstanding defence was more than equal to the task. Props, Tom Driscoll and Connor Ward dominated up front and hooker, Steve Maycock also made telling contributions in open play. Sam Brady and Andy Boyde gave towering 2nd Row performances and, despite Jonny Coser’s injury absence, the back row combination of Martin Dodds, Hugo Tasker and Tim Heaton scavenged effectively and launched telling attacks.
After a strong Brady burst, stand-off Cail Cookland’s cross kick was taken at pace by winger Andrew Lawson and a desperate Hull tackle was needed to force him into touch after a strong run. Full back Oli Rosillo launched a trade-mark counter attack but the attack ended with a wild pass from a supporting back. However, a big Harrogate scrum led to Hull being penalised and the home pressure continued. Harrogate have experienced two scoreless first halves this season but, just as it looked like this would be another one, a huge line kick from Hull’s Simon Humberstone led to a defensive home line-out and, when Harrogate came in from the side at a maul, Humberstone’s penalty kick put Hull ahead.
Stephen Hihetah, Hull’s left winger has been scoring at will for most of the season but it was a searing break from right winger Mike Adlard which led to the next score. A high tackle ended his run, a penalty try was awarded and Tasker was despatched to the sin bin. Rosillo also sustained a match ending shoulder injury in the move so Cookland moved to full back, Danny Matthews took over at stand-off and Phil Wickham came off the bench for his season’s debut at scrum half. This proved to be a game changing adjustment. The half ended with repeated Harrogate attacks forcing Hull to defend desperately and, when Paul Hamber illegally prevented a seemingly certain try, he was sin binned though no penalty try was awarded. In the final move of the half, a Hull attacking line-out was thwarted by Maycock cleverly stealing possession at the tail.
Harrogate’s restart kick to the left was well taken by Lawson and an attack was launched. He then brilliantly gathered an attacking chip to leave Hull’s defence for dead and score a try converted by Nathan Wyman. A great Maycock turnover launched more Harrogate attacks. Hull scrum half, Harvey Harding then had to leave the field with an injury to be replaced by Tomasi Tanumi, their other “try scoring machine”. Harrogate’s Wyman also needed lengthy treatment for an ankle injury at this stage. However, before having to be replaced, he managed to combine with Lawson, gather an attacking chip and score a converted try to put Harrogate 14-10 ahead.
Boyde then won turnover ball from a Hull attack and Harrogate countered. Hull won a scrum under pressure and Wickham added to this by forcing Tanumi to pass wildly. With eight minutes of normal time remaining, a succession of Harrogate driving mauls led to Tasker streaking through the home defence for what seemed to be the match winning try. However, it was adjudged that crossing had been involved in the move and the try was disallowed. Hull attacks then took play to the Harrogate goal line and they were awarded a scrum. A Hull drive followed and, with a minute of normal time remaining, they were awarded a second penalty try which put them 14-17 ahead.
Into injury time, Harry Barnard counter attacked strongly from deep but the move was ended by a high tackle. The penalty led to a Harrogate attacking line-out and Barnard’s running again stretched Hull’s defence. Matthews broke clear from 40 metres in midfield and an attacking maul followed the breakdown. A great Harrogate forwards clear out followed and created just enough space for Boyde to crash over and score the winning try. Just to add to the drama of the occasion, Cookland’s conversion bounced in off the upright. After the game, Boyde insisted that I give Heaton credit for his involvement in setting up the match winning try.
Harrogate: Rosillo, Barnard, Wyman, Edwards, Lawson, Cooklasnd, Matthews, Driscoll, Maycock, Ward, Brady, Boyde, Dodds, Tasker, Heaton. Subs:- Wickham, Yorke, Purkiss-McEndoo
Hull: Birch, Adlard, Naylor, Johnson, Hihetah, Humberstone, Harding, Dias, Jobling, Boothman, Hamber, Regardsoe, O’Donnell, Hardman, Hall. Subs:- Wright, Tanumi, Herd
Referee: Adam Morrison (Northern)
Match report by Bill Barrack