Christmas workouts key to fifth Harrogate win

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Hard work over the Christmas period was the reason for Harrogate rugby club’s rise to third in National Two North, according to director of rugby Mike Aspinall.

Gate outbattled fellow in-form side Caldy on Saturday 19-12 to move alone in third spot.

The Liverpool side had a perfect record at home prior to the contest but tries from man of the match Luke Edwards and Callum Irvine ensured Gate a fifth straight victory.

Aspinall brought his squad into training on New Year’s Day, and he believes it proved the difference in the weekend clash, with Caldy’s bosses admitting they had not trained.

Gate’s chief said: “The game was won and lost over Christmas. We were at the club training at 6.45pm on New Year’s Day and got any remnants of the new year out of the way.

“It’s easy to see if someone has been eating Christmas puddings for ten days or if they have been working out.

“We had the gym open throughout Christmas, but the majority of the work gets done away from the club.

“Our players got their rewards. We looked much the sharper team in the first-half and all credit must go to the players.

“It was a really pleasing start picking up where we left off.”

Harrogate welcome strugglers Hull this Saturday, keen to rectify the 20-20 draw away earlier this season.

The east coast outfit have lost 11 matches this season but shocked Chester in their first clash of 2015 on Saturday.

Aspinall will continue his rotation policy for the clash and Saturday’s substitutes at Caldy, Nico Nyemba, Willem Enslin, Ben Hepworth and Tom Harvey are likely to force their way into the starting line-up.

“I am of the opinion that we will rotate again, but how heavily will be the question,” Aspinall said.

“We can only do that because I have full confidence in the players. Every time we rotate, it’s not weakening the side, it’s giving opportunity for people to make our side better.”

Hull have struggled under new head coach Martin Webdale but have improved form since former Welsh international Garry Pearce joined the coaching staff. Aspinall said Gate would have to be wary of the opponent’s newfound threat.

“Every team is a challenge at this level and we can’t underestimate Hull,” he added. “Garry has come in as their new director of rugby and they had a good win against Chester.

“When you get new staff it can give the place a more positive vibe so we have to be careful of that.”