by Clarissa Murphy
In wet and muddy conditions, Sandal capitalised early at the breakdown to turn over the hosts ball and score five points, wide of the posts.
Getting an early wake up call, Harrogate responded well speeding up play at the breakdown and using the back line to pressure the visitors, before a sandal tackle set for the first line out of the game.
Winning the ball in the 22, the hosts set their platform with strong rucking to see Kirstie Plummer peel off the back and dive over the line for an unconverted try, evening up the score line.
Sandal began to set themselves clear using a talented and speedy outside centre to run around the outside of a pressured host defence, securing two tries to lead 17-5.
But, linking up in the back line, Izzy Harris and Olivia Almond used their unstoppable speed to trail 10-17.
In the classic tennis game style, Sandal responded with their familiar speed in the backs to add another, before Harris and Almond linked up once more to send Emma Winstanley over out wide.
Before the half time whistle both sides kept the game in tense spirits, scoring another try each. The the hosts drew the defence in short inside the 22, with Caroline Cockshott spotting space out wide and touching down, the scores were 20-27 at the break in Sandal’s favour.
Heading back into the second half, Harrogate gained some early ground from the kick off, but a pick up out wide from the Sandal winger saw her head up the pitch for the try line but incredible speed from Almond saw her chance ended on the 22 with a successful diving tackle.
Play began to slow with the conditions causing breaks for scrums, and both sides beginning to look after the ball around the break down and going through the phases.
Despite some outstanding defensive tackles from Sarah Jayne Pritchard, Ruth Fewster-Neale and Cockshott Sandal saw themselves over the try line for a further 12 points.
Yet, the hosts ended the game on their terms with some fantastic team play seeing them into the visitors 22, before a penalty taken by Fewster-Neale set Clarissa Murphy up to crash over the try line.
Players of the match were Charlotte Anderson for impeccable work around the break down and Clarissa Murphy for great decision making throughout the game.
Harrogate II next face Stockport Ladies away, in their continued campaign in Women’s NC 2 North West.