The much-anticipated meeting between Harrogate Ladies first XV and the South Yorkshire side arrived on Sunday as Harrogate travelled into Barnsley’s territory.
With Barnsley’s success of consecutive promotions in addition to an extra year’s experience in the Championship, Harrogate knew they were going to be in for a fight.
Harrogate Scrum half, Freya Wilde kicked off and tactically placed it which resulted in the visitors winning possession straight back. Winger Lauren Bolger then got her hands on the ball, scoring down the wing.
Harrogate were on the scoreboard within a minute and off to a dominant start.
After the restart, Barnsley didn’t allow the visiting side’s dominance to continue, quickly winning a scrum within Harrogate’s 22.
The home side knocked on after playing the phases but managed to win back the ball in the resultant Harrogate scrum. They then pushed steadily into Harrogate’s red zone before forcing them to kick for clearance.
With a line out won, the wet weather conditions resulted in a Harrogate handling error and the home side gained their own scrum. Barnsley were once again within 5 metres of Harrogate’s try line.
Feeling the pressure, both teams worked hard but this time it was Barnsley who fumbled and Harrogate were back on the attack, needing to clear quickly.
Number 8, Rianna Manson picked up off the base of the scrum but was stopped short with Barnsley winning a penalty, which they took tactically. Another knock on followed as well as a high tackle on a Harrogate player, resulting in a Harrogate penalty.
After a great effort at quick hands down the line, the ball was lost and it was scrum time again, with Barnsley to put in. Soon though, advantage was won by Harrogate and prop, Christine Pratt makes a break with the ball unluckily lost in the breakdown.
Barnsley took back control back for a period of time, kicking to their advantage and winning another scrum.
During this clash of the two forward packs however, Harrogate manage to turn the scrum and win the ball. Possession wasn’t kept for long though and Barnsley kick to clear again, relieving the pressure from within their own 22.
With a series of mistakes, scrums and penalties awarded to both sides, there was progress made on both behalves. Barnsley opted for the drop kick, unable to dash through the Harrogate defence.
In a complete tun of events the kick was missed and Harrogate replied. Reacting quickly, Harrogate’s Bolger ran the ball in from the visitor’s 5 metre line right down the wing.
She stepped in past the last line of defence to cross the whitewash and touch down between the sticks.
With the extras kicked over it is 0-14 to the visiting Harrogate with minutes to go before half time.
Harrogate quickly made their way towards the half way line after Barnsley’s kick. Second row Annie Lyles made a break before passing the ball out to the wing where full back Alex Wallace was in support and able to dive over the line, scoring under the posts.
As the half time whistle blew, Harrogate were 19 points up and had dodged conceding against forceful opposition.
After the interval, Barnsley started well and Harrogate lost the ball from the kick off. A line out followed and second row Tilly Churm charged through the line after winning the ball, leaving a dismayed defence in her wake.
With Barnsley back on the attack, they push into Harrogate’s 22, piling pressure onto the defence and managing to win a scrum on Harrogate’s 5 metre line.
Harrogate’s forwards manage to push their opposition back 10 metres but Barnsley reacted quickly. With a cross field kick to the corner and players waiting to receive, Barnsley were in in the corner for a well anticipated and deserved first try of the match. The extras were booted over to make it 7-19.
When play resumed, Harrogate were quick to hand over a penalty resulting in a kick far into their 22. Harrogate reacted quickly though, as centre Sarah Foster ran a hard line through a splintering defence.
Wallace then followed suit, pulling the defence in to the left before heading right but the ball glided into touch. Barnsley gave Harrogate a hard time in the form of their defensive power.
A penalty was thankfully won, relieving Harrogate of a pressing defence and prop Amber Barnicoat ploughed through the last line of defence and over the line. Bolger made a third successful conversion and Harrogate’s lead was increased to 7-26.
Barnsley were back up and at it immediately from the restart, ensuring Harrogate were on the back foot. Forcing a mistake, the home team successfully score off the back of a dominant scrum. With the conversion missed the score was 12-26, in Harrogate’s favour.
After a couple of subsequent mistakes, Harrogate redeemed themselves and moved back up the field. Wilde kicked tactically and Harrogate worked through the phases. Another attempt at attack was defied by a loose ball combined with Barnsley pressure.
With minutes left to go Harrogate managed to put a final try over the whitewash in the hands of Manson and finalised the score at 12-31.
Many thanks to hosts Barnsley for an exceptionally challenging match, we look forward to welcoming you to the Stratstone Stadium soon.
Player of the match performances were awarded to Christine Pratt, Sarah Foster and Tilly Churm.
Sunday sees Harrogate Ladies first XV host local rivals West Park Leeds at the Stratstone Stadium. This promises to be a fight to the bitter end and is a top of the table clash.
All welcome to the Stratstone stadium on Sunday for a 2:30 pm kick off and £2.00 entry on the gate.