Darlington were Harrogate’s first opponents of the 2018-19 season, back in September. The initial meeting of the two sides resulted in a 74-0 thrashing. So, head coach John Hardy had been sure to forewarn and prepare his team effectively. He expected that Darlington would want to avoid a repeat of this, and would be bringing a fight to visiting Harrogate.
The game started slowly, taking 15 minutes for any points to be scored. Nevertheless, It was 0-5 to Harrogate within the first quarter, courtesy of centre, Alex Wallace.
Darlington responded straight away with a try of their own though. Neither conversion was successful team and it was all tied half an hour in.
Not for long however, as winger, Simone Christopher showed off her fancy footwork and backed her own speed. She crossed the whitewash to score Harrogate’s second, Wallace converted to add the extras, and the score stood at 5-12.
Following the re-start Wallace had the Darlington defenders on toast, dancing round them and handing off left, right and centre.
It wasn’t until Sarah Foster made an appearance (on for Sophie Wilson who was off receiving attention for a hand injury), that the points came in, though. Fozzy ran a rapid line right through the middle of the opposition, surpassing every tackle.
Despite the level of physicality they were facing from the home outfit, Harrogate made it to the half-time whistle with 22 points on the scoreboard to Darlington’s 5. They had put in a very patient first half performance.
After the interval, Darlington were definitely on the rampage, determined to put some more points past their opposition.
It was Lauren Bolger who made her mark first after play resumed and despite a late tackle in the try zone she upped the scoreline to 5-27.
Working against Darlington’s physicality, an incredible team try followed Bolger’s. After a brilliant effort in the scrum by the forwards, the ball made its way faultlessly down the hands of the backs and was dotted down eventually by WIlson.
Next up it was Nev’s turn to add points to cross the whitewash after receiving the ball from Wallace and following through with a perfectly timed run.
With only minutes to go on the clock, Wallace was able to add one last try, making the final score 5-44 to the visiting Harrogate side.
Player of the match performances were awarded to Christine Pratt and Emma Winstanley for their relentless performances at scrum half and prop respectively. This Sunday (24th March), Harrogate will face Midlands outfit Bletchley, who have topped the league table in the Midlands equivalent of Championship North 2, and will therefore also face Harrogate in the play off for promotion on April 7th (venue & K.O. time TBC).