National Two North: Harrogate 20-15 Caldy

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Harrogate got the better of Caldy 20-15 in a nail-biting National Two North fixture on Saturday.

Although they had the edge for most of the match, Harrogate’s defence had to hold out desperately to protect their narrow lead at the end.

Harrogate went on the offensive from the start and kept possession for almost 10 minutes when a scrau offence gave Caldy a penalty. The home pressure continued and a scintillating Callum Irvine break seemed to have put Cameran Leadley clear on the right wing. However, a high tackle prevented a certain score and a penalty try was awarded, converted by Irvine.

An even period of play followed till Harrogate were deemed to have gone offside and Richard Vasey’s penalty kick opened Caldy’s account. Caldy then failed to retreat 10 metres from a quickly taken Harrogate penalty and Irvine then went for goal to restore the 7 points difference.

Solid Harrogate drives from well won ball set up several promising attacks but, all too often, the final pass went astray. Lewis Minikin, Sam Bottomley, Kyle Dench and Irvine were prominent in these attacks. Athletic line-out play from Chris Wilson provided a stream of possession which was supplement by hard yards from back rowers, Kerry Wood and Tim Heaton.

A deliberate knock-on then led to a Caldy penalty and attacking line-out. A well constructed driving maul followed and flanker, Stuart Cross scored a trademark Caldy try. Harrogate responded with a brilliant Irvine break which took him over the goal line but the ball was knocked out of his hand as he attempted to touch down and the half time score remained 10-8.

Caldy attacked from the restart and Danny Matthews had to cover back to rescue a dangerous situation and put in a clearing kick. Harrogate attacked from deep but Caldy winger, Ben Eaves intercepted a pass to race clear and score. Vasey’s conversion put the visitors ahead. Another Irvine break was carried on by Bottomley but he was held just short of the line. A series of driving mauls followed and Jake Brady crashed over to equalise the scores.

A good Mike Aspinall line kick put Harrogate into the Caldy 22 and the home pressure continued. Jake Brady made a powerful break but, from the subsequent maul, Harrogate were penalised for “hands in”. A Caldy line-out followed but Wilson stole the ball and more home driving mauls led to Noel Minikin’s try putting Harrogate ahead.

The remaining 10 minutes were all Caldy’s as they mounted continuous pressure on the Harrogate line. Harrogate had to defend desperately and Caldy were penalised in what turned out to be the last move of the match. Harrogate gratefully kicked the ball dead.

Harrogate: L Minikin, Leadley, Dench, Bottomley, Frost, Irvine, Matthews, Boyde, Nyemba, Metcalfe, Brady, Wilson, Enslin, Wood, Heaton. Subs (all used):- Harvey, Reaveley, N Minikin, Morland, Aspinall

Caldy: Soutar, Royle, Roberts, Javin, Eaves, Vasey, Broxson, Campbell, C Jones, Salisbury, McGowan, Sanders, Cross, Davidson, Smithson. Subs (all used):- Dowridge, Lowes, Dowler, Collins, B Jones.

Referee: Karl Kirkpatrick (RFU)