Gate to ‘throw caution to the wind’ against Otley

Harrogate v Leicester Lions.   (131214M4d)
Harrogate v Leicester Lions. (131214M4d)
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Harrogate RUFC director of rugby Mike Aspinall has told Otley to expect an onslaught of expansive rugby when his men arrive for the keenly anticipated derby at Cross Green on Saturday (2pm).

Aspinall insisted Harrogate would play their way out of a torrid run, which has seen them lose four straight National Two North matches.

Their poor form continued on Saturday as Leicester Lions powered past them 25-20 at Claro Road (report page 83).

And with derby defeat earlier this season still fresh in the memory, Aspinall urged his men to gain revenge by sticking to their rugby principals.

“There’s no better game for the boys to pick themselves up in,” he said.

“We are going to come out and throw caution to the wind.

“Otley are going to have to be at their best defensively.

“We intend to go out and run the ball and see what happens.”

Star half-back Callum Irvine was benched against Leicester after breaking club rules and drinking two days before a match.

The Scotland U-20s player, however, made an instant impression when he arrived onto the field, and set up Oli Denton to score late on.

Aspinall said: “We are a culture-first club. I think there was a bit of a misunderstanding from Callum’s point of view.”

Irvine is likely to return to the starting line-up for Saturday’s derby at Otley.

The upcoming hosts have also endured a miserable spell in the league, losing seven of their last eight matches and sliding to tenth in the table.

They beat ’Gate 27-24 at Claro Road in September.

Lock Tom Harvey is likely to miss the contest after a leg injury forced him off the field during the Leicester clash.

Prop Dan Metcalfe also faces a fitness battle.

Aspinall said his players were left bruised from Saturday’s bonus-point defeat but remained convinced that 12th-place Harrogate will turn their form around.

“Leicester had an outstanding pack. With those weapons, it’s hard to see how they are as low as they are,” he added.

“They have scored penalty tries against all the top teams. It’s obviously a part of their game that functions really well and they made it pay.

“Unfortunately, it was s a similar story for us. As far as our strengths go, we haven’t quite got the rewards.

“We had decent possession, but we didn’t come away with any points, At this level of rugby it’s about taking your opportunities.

“When you don’t, you get punished.

“The boys were bitterly disappointed. But we have had to get over this quickly and get back to giving it our all.”