Harrogate Ladies manage a 7-41 win away at Manchester against the odds
The team travelled back from Lancashire carrying over their unbeaten streak into 2019
The first 10 minutes after the initial kick off consisted of Manchester holding the majority of possession with a vast number of penalties awarded against Harrogate halting the play considerably.
When pressure was applied in defence however, Manchester were forced to kick to clear and fullback, Lauren Bolger managed to pick up the ball before running round the edge to score.
This was closely followed by a consecutive try from Bolger as Manchester were punished once again for kicking as a second was scored in the exactly the same way. She successfully kicked over one conversion. The score was 12-0 within the first quarter.
Manchester applied immense pressure after the restart pushing up on Harrogate hard. The visitors defended well though, with huge tackles being put in by the forward pack. Number 8, Anna Hamilton and second row, Annie Lyles were seemingly throwing the opposition attack around for fun.
Finally Manchester managed to make it into Harrogate’s half of the pitch before fumbling under defensive pressure again and knocking on.
However, the home forwards were making life difficult for Harrogate in the centre, but as soon as the visitors gained possession round the edges Manchester were in trouble. Winger, Simone Christopher got her hands on the ball and sprinted from within her own 22 to score under the sticks. Bolger converted a second to make it 19-0.
Harrogate were still managing to push forward, although very slowly due to a mass of penalties conceded, ensuring possession remained largely with Manchester. Lucy Barnett’s outfit were defensively solid, but were under huge pressure in attack.
Alex Wallace made Manchester pay for being sloppy with the ball when she gained possession and covered some serious ground before stepping the last line of defence and scoring under the posts. She dived over the try line to bring the score to 24-0.
Hooker, Maisie Barnett ran a series of hard lines, breaking through the defence at pace before offloading prior to contact. After the oncoming defensive line was staggered room was allowed for flankers, Lauren Clarkson and Nieve Jones to power through before moving the ball out to the centres.
Harrogate then played on with 14 after they received yellow card for a high tackle.
The referee awarded a penalty try to the home side shortly after, following a collapsed scrum close to their own try line.
The Half time whistle followed.
Upon the restart, captain Rose Jay made a huge flying tackle to show the home side that Harrogate meant business in this half too.
Wallace received the ball, demonstrating great hands before shipping it to replacement winger, Izzy Harris on the wing. Close to scoring Harris was stopped just short.
Acting like a forward, Sarah Foster then sent a Manchester player staggering backwards at pace after a huge tackle, managing to force a turnover in her team’s favour.
Subsequently, the ball was shipped out to the left wing and again into the hands of Harris. To everyone’s surprise, after crossing the whitewash and touching down it became clear the referee had disallowed the try for a crossing offence (which only he managed to witness).
Harrogate kept their calm and Wallace fired through the defence and touched down in response, making this one count after a quick tap and go.
After the restart Wallace got her hands on the ball once more, following some solid phases played by the forwards. She used a well placed hand off to gain more space and score her hatrick try. The scoreboard was at 36-7 in Harrogate’s favour with less than 10 minutes to go.
With the final whistle in sight, Bolger made serious tackle on an attacking player and forced a Manchester error. This enabled Harrogate to win the ball back and ship it out wide on the right this time, into the hands of returning winger Ellen Armstrong. Armstrong crossed the try line and scored in the final play of the match.
The final score was 41-7 to Harrogate with player of the match performances awarded to Maisie Barnett and Alex Wallace.
Next Sunday sees the Ladies travel to Southport where they will attempt to keep hold of their unbeaten record.