Bulked up Harrogate prepare for Hull Ionians attrition derby

Harrogate RUFC's Callum Irvine (Richard Bown)
Harrogate RUFC's Callum Irvine (Richard Bown)

Excited director of rugby Mike Aspinall is eager for his forwards to shape up again when his Harrogate side face the “best pack” in National Two North on Saturday.

Harrogate travel to Hull Ionians at the weekend for a Yorkshire derby that sees both teams sat inside the top four.

Hull were relegated from National One last year but have found their feet quickly this campaign and sit top of the table. The East Coast outfit have lost just once in 11 matches and have one of the strongest forward lines in the league. But, Aspinall was keen to see how his bulked up squad could cope against another top side.

“We have learnt off the back of the Ampthill perfromance and we are excited to get on the park against one of the best teams in the league,” Aspinall said. “Their pack is a real force to be reckoned with. Their scrum is the best in the league.

“But looking at their squad for this weekend, they have put together a tidy backline too. They are a pretty rounded side.

“It’s going to be a challenge for us.”

Gate leaped up to fourth last Saturday as they benefitted from Preston Grasshoppers’ ill-discipline to storm to a 27-9 victory on Armed Forces Day at Claro Road.

The Grasshoppers had an uphill battle from the 15th minute when forward Reece Tomlinson was sent off for a headbutt on Gate lock Chris Wilson.

Wilson will recover from the bruising to take to the field against Ionians, and Gate have no fresh injury concerns.

Aspinall added: “The squad is in a good place. We are really excited with the challenges ahead over the next few weeks.

“Last week we wanted five points and that’s what we got. It puts us in a good position.”