Cup break for Gate after ten league wins in a row

3rd Novenber 2012.'Harrogate v Birkenhead,  Rugby Union.'Pictured Harrogate's Noel Minikin looks to off load the ball.'Picture by Gerard Binks.
3rd Novenber 2012.'Harrogate v Birkenhead, Rugby Union.'Pictured Harrogate's Noel Minikin looks to off load the ball.'Picture by Gerard Binks.
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Harrogate secured a stunning ten wins out of ten by beating Birkenhead Park 57-8 on Saturday.

Team manager Graham Siswick is delighted at the side’s progress, and says this weekend’s cup game presents them with a welcome break from National Three North league action.

Harrogate are planning to switch around the team for Saturday’s 2.15pm Yorkshire Cup kick-off at Cleckheaton.

He said: “We will have a changed team but will still be putting out a strong side.

“We want to keep the momentum going, and the cup game gives us a chance to look at some other players.

“Cleckheaton are a good outfit, they are in the league below us, and they will want to get a bit of glory by knocking us off our perch.

“They will put out a strong side and be a handful for us.”

Siswick insists his first-team stars are looking over their shoulders as fringe and second team players threaten to take their places.

He said: “There is good competition for spaces in the squad and from the seconds.

“Nathan Smith came off the bench and scored two tries at the weekend.

“We have had ten weeks of league games, and started training before that in July.

“It has been a long run and anyone who has been playing with a knock will be rested.”

On the run, Siswick said: “We are very pleased with things, we can’t do much better.

“We put a good performance together on Saturday, and Noel Minikin scored Harrogate’s first hat-trick in two seasons.

“He is improving with every game, we are so pleased for him.

“The team have done very well and we will give 100 per cent to keep the run going.”

On Saturday, leaders Harrogate started well, stretching the Birkenhead defence, and captain Jimmy Browne drove over for the first try converted by Callum Irvine.

The visitors then scored two tries, despite going down to 14 men.

Wing Minikin then seized on an Irvine chip to score his first, before Smith powered over for a converted try, and Minikin grabbed another before the break.

After the interval, centre Sam Bottomley created space for Minikin to compete his hat-trick.

A Rob Almond break set Smith up for his second, before an Irvine break then allowed Almond through to score a try.

Oli Denton’s try was followed by Minikin’s fourth.

Reflecting on the game, Siswick said: “We put on a great performance, and it was great to get the bonus point.

“Everybody that was there thoroughly enjoyed the rugby. It was good entertainment, a good brand of rugby and the boys are enjoying every minute of it.”

Meantime, products of Harrogate’s successful junior section Luke Gair and Scott Irvine have been selected to play for Yorkshire U-16s.