Harrogate Ladies off to a flying start in new league after a demolition of Darlington
By Helena Landau
The Ladies’ Championship North 2 debut ended in a successful 74-0 win at home
After both a strong training set up and win against Championship North 1 side Sheffield during the pre season period, Harrogate were clearly ready for the start of their new league campaign after receiving promotion. The first game of the season saw Harrogate make a huge impact and walking away with a 74-0 win over Darlington Ladies.
The first try of the match came after only 9 minutes, when Fullback Alex Wallace picked up a loose Doncaster ball and ran through from the back line before touching down. Wallace then booted over the extra 2 to make it 7-0. A second score soon followed from the number 15, when Captain Rose Jay kicked the ball through and Wallace chased through and slid over the whitewash smoothly.
With wet weather conditions there were a number of scrums early on, in which Darlington's forward pack was strong, forcing Harrogate to work hard and hold them. After 23 minutes Jay took advantage of a penalty and set up inside centre Lauren Bolger, who showed serious speed before both scoring and converting. Following suit, Flanker Anna Hamilton caught the Darlington kick off clean and set off down the left wing. Her fellow Flanker Lauren Clarkson was in support who completed her teammate’s run to score, Bolger added the extras to bring the score to 26-0.
Next up Scrumhalf Sophie Wilson and Bolger linked up to slice through Darlington’s defence and add another try, before Centre Nieve Jones and Prop Amber Barnicoat got in on the action. Jones initiated a solid run and popped to Barnicoat who was supporting well, Winger Simone Christopher added the finishing touches by sprinting the rest and scoring between the sticks from out wide. Harrogate added two more tries before the interval, including an impressive try from Bolger who scored from kick to her own try line.
When play resumed it was immediately obvious that Darlington had come back with a new lease of life, were raring to go and much more physical than they had been during the first half which caused Harrogate some problems. It wasn’t long however before Bolger and Wallace had scored a couple more and Winger Ellen Armstrong scored her first try in a Ladies League game after moving up from the under 18’s outfit. Armstrong handed off and danced around several defenders before touching down, Bolger added Harrogate’s final 2 points.
Doncaster were fierce in their forward’s attack and made sure Harrogate played a defensive game for the last 15 minutes, as they edged closer and closer to the home team’s try line. The away side put in some powerful runs but Harrogate stepped up to ensure they didn’t allow Darlington to score in the last few minutes, the final score was 74-0. Players of the match were awarded to Imari Epps, Ellie Ward and Lauren Bolger for stand out performances.
After an impressive start to the season, Harrogate take on playoff winners Didsbury Toc H Ladies on Sunday away. It promises to be a thrilling match after Harrogate’s previous one point loss to the Manchester side in April.