Gate set for otley showdown

tis  Harrogate v Otley. Number 12.   (111105M2b)
tis Harrogate v Otley. Number 12. (111105M2b)

Harrogate RUFC director of rugby Mike Aspinall is expecting a thumping atmosphere at Claro Road when fierce rivals Otley arrive on Saturday (3pm).

’Gate were undone 24-7 by play-off finalists Stourbridge in their opening National Two North contest on Saturday.

But Aspinall took the positives from the performance and he wants his players to build on their showing on derby day.

The last time Otley visited Claro Road in November 2011, ’Gate ran out 20-11 winners.

And Aspinall said the history between the two sides makes it a match that needs no introduction.

“Before most of the players got changed on Saturday they were already talking about how excited they were for Otley,” he said.

“To have such a massive derby at Claro Road is wonderful. It will be a great place to open our account in National League Two.

“Both sets of players know each other well. There will be a big buzz around Claro Road.”

Stourbridge punished ’Gate for costly defensive errors on Saturday as they ran up a half-time lead of 24 points.

But an improved ’Gate fixed the leak in the second half before fly-half replacement Callum Irvine stormed to an interception try.

Aspinall remained philosophical to how his side responded in the second period.

He said: “We are not a million miles away. But we now know the level we are playing.

“We have to look at the small developments we can make.

“If we keep moving in that direction we will get on the right side of the score-sheet.”

Dan Metcalfe and Tom Harvey were late injuries for ’Gate to add to long-term absentees Steve Parsons and club captain Jimmy Browne.

Before kick-off, Aspinall had anticipated a tough, physical going over by their Worcestershire opponents, and the strength of the beaten play-off finalists confirmed his suspicions.

He added: “I don’t think it was a rude awakening for the players.

“The players left Stourbridge with some questions themseleves.

“They were as good as expected. But that’s a positive.

“Clearly money has been spent there. Players have time to spend on their rugby.

“All things considered on the first game of the season against the team favourite for top spot, it was a reasonable start.”