Harrogate 28 – 10 Kirkby Lonsdale
Bog Snorkelling in Yorkshire
A personal view by Cammie Hodgkinson
Harrogate is a Spa town famous for its mineral bathing waters, the rugby club’s recent move to the genteel surroundings of Ruddings Park on the outskirts now allow the town to add mud bathing to its list of attractions. Carefully positioned overlooking the pitch the clubhouse offers a large viewing veranda which knowing locals use wisely rather than venture onto the sodden turf sloping down to the pitch, a design which ensures water flows onto the playing surface with little hope of escape. There is no doubting the warmth of the hospitality though, even if the Harrogate sized entry fee of £10 per head might be a little on the steep side, a fee which left some wondering how much it might cost to get out.
Snow had accompanied the Faithfull on their journey although this had been replaced by steady rain from a gloomy overcast sky at the ground and, apparently, the decision to play was made after the Kirkby team arrived in a ‘well we’re all here now’ sort of way.
Kirkby were short of forwards for this fixture and also, through illness, without the services of stand-off Dave Barton which created positional changes with centre Tom Pickthall going to ten as they kicked off left to right in front of the clubhouse. In these conditions with players suitably ‘slimed up’ forward power was going to be a feature and so it proved when after early exchanges Harrogate had a scrum around ten metres from the Kirkby line, Kirkby held the scrum, Harrogate picked up at number eight and mauled towards the line eventually getting their loose head prop Charley Purkis-McEndoo over for the try.
This caused momentary enjoyment amongst some of the Faithfull until it was pointed out, politely, that Kirkby were in their change strip since Harrogate also play in black, red and amber and it was they who had scored.
The home stand-off Luke White nailed the conversion from wide out to make it 7 – 0 after six minutes and White’s excellent kicking from the tee and the hand were clearly an influential home game strategy demonstrating and exploiting local knowledge of the playing conditions.
Kirkby hit back with a try, a high tackle gave them a penalty, Scott Armstrong found touch and Kirkby attacked from the lineout, Skipper Ben Walker eventually jinking through to score but although Pickthall struck the ball well the conversion shaved the wrong side of the post and it was 7 – 5 after fifteen minutes.
Harrogate were soon back on the Kirkby line and were held up as they surged over but were more successful from the five metre scrum which followed when their influential number seven Guy Coser crashed over near the corner flag. White again nailing the conversion from wide out to make it 14 – 5 with twenty two minutes played.
As half time approached it was the home side who had the last say of the half when sustained forward pressure close to the line yielded a second try for prop Purkis-McEndoo, this time under the posts, the conversion being no challenge to White and it was 21 – 5 when the whistle went.
Kirkby raised their game in the second half and created chances which could have been taken but came and went when attacking lineouts went astray or the scoring pass went loose. They also had to deal with White’s tactical kicking, steepling high kicks for his runners and long raking kicks getting the ball ‘down there’ and putting Kirkby on the defence in the mud and, to cap his excellent performance, White scored and converted Harrogate’s fourth try to extend their lead to 28 – 5 mid way through the half.
Kirkby did have a moment when number four Gareth Gore turned Harrogate over just outside their twenty two and flanker Stuart Storey was away on a run which evaded a couple of tackles and broke a couple more only to be held up over the line. Harrogate defended the five metre scrum but sustained open field pressure by Kirkby saw a home player receive a yellow card and Kirkby were able to exploit the extra man when winger Harry Huddleston broke clear and outpaced the cover to score an unconverted try in the corner to make the final score 28 – 10.
The second half was a somewhat dour affair with one try for each side but notable from Kirkby’s point of view by a first team opportunity for Will Brown. An emerging senior prospect from the Development Squad who came off the bench late on to make a very competent 1stXV appearance.
Next Saturday is the rearranged fixture at Underley Park against third placed Hull who are chasing Lymm for the play off second place, they will be looking for a win and maximum home support would be welcome for that one.
1 Dan Thompson
2 Dan Armistead
3 Tyran Fagan
4 Gareth Gore
5 Matt Hughes
6 Craig Galbraith
7 Ross Towers
8 Alex Rogers
9 Ben Walker
10 Tom Pickthall
11 Harry Huddleston
12 Scott Armstrong
13 Harry Ralston
14 Matthew Barge
15 Agustin Cittadini
16 Stuart Storey
17 David Maka
18 Will Brown