Rugby Union: Harrogate 18-15 Luctonians

hsb  'Gate v Leicester Lions.  Number 12.  (131214M4b)
hsb 'Gate v Leicester Lions. Number 12. (131214M4b)
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Harrogate Rugby Club made a winning start to 2014 by beating Luctonians 18-15 at Claro Road on Saturday.

Harrogate went into a 10-0 lead after a dazzling opening 20 minutes and a scoring bonanza seemed certain.

However, the Luctonians game plan was better suited to the conditions and they actually lead for most of the match.

With five minutes of normal time remaining, Joe Rowntree held his nerve to kick a tricky penalty and give Harrogate a narrow win.

High octane Harrogate running built pressure from the start and, from quick scrum ball, Callum Irvine split the visiting defence to score under the posts.

Rowntree’s conversion made it 7-0. More attacks followed with Jake Brady’s powerhouse running punching holes in the Lucs defence and creating space for attacks from Irvine, Sam Bottomley, Kyle Dench & Steve Parsons.

Almost immediately, Harrogate lost possession in defence and Luctonians set up a series of driving mauls. Second row, Mike Cheasley stood out in this phase and warhorse hooker, Chris Cundliffe drove over to score with Will Burton adding the conversion.

Outstanding Luctonians back play followed and the pacy Drew Cheshire put Jimmy Norris away for an excellent try.

Harrogate continued to attack at every opportunity but Lucs held on to their narrow lead for the rest of the half.

Luctonians’ pack continued to drive forward from the restart but Harrogate defended well and Brady, Heaton and Nathan Smith set up powerful counters.

Burton extended the Lucs lead following a Harrogate offside offence and their increasing forward control lead to Harrogate’s talented backs having to live off scraps.

Hooker, Aarin Yorke supported an attack at pace but was forced into touch near the corner flag.

Livewire replacement winger, Harry Parrish also came close but from the subsequent attacking line-out, the ball was spun right and another fine Irvine break was supported by Bottomley who beat the defence and his try levelled the scores.

Harrogate continued to attack at every opportunity and Luctonians eventually went offside. Rowntree kicked Harrogate ahead and the home defence managed to contain the Luctonians attacks for the rest of the match.

Harrogate: Rowntree, Parsons, Dench, Bottomley, N Minikin (Parrish 45), Irvine, Matthews (Wickham 49), Metcalfe, Yorke, Browne (Musetti 65), Brady, Wilson (Gardiner 49), Adair, N Smith (Johnson 65), Heaton.

Luctonians: Price, Cheshire, Knight, James, Norris, Burton, Roy-Smith, M Jones (Watkins 65), Cundliffe (James 75), R Jones, D Smith, Cheasley, Talbot, S Jones, Hulland

Referee: Mick Harris (RFU)