HARROGATE were beaten 32-22 at Hull in National Two North on Saturday.
As half time approached, Harrogate were 10-3 ahead, having scored two sparkling tries.
However, a defensive lapse allowed Hull to equalise and, in the second half, their more pragmatic approach paid dividends against Harrogate’s high risk, attacking rugby.
Referee Karl Kirkpatrick awarded Hull a penalty from the very first scrum of the match and James Cameron duly kicked them into a 3 point lead. The pattern of the match was then established with Hull’s forwards battering Harrogate’s line and the visiting backs looking dangerous in their adventurous counter attacks. Harrogate’s line-out also functioned exceptionally well with Chris Wilson and the Brady brothers winning crucial opposition ball and denying them attacking opportunities.
The referee seemed determined to make his presence felt and, when Harrogate’s Matt Roberts sustained a leg injury, he insisted that he be moved before being examined by the Physio, to enable the game to continue. This was a high risk decision though he fortunately got away with it.
An excellent Callum Irvine clearing kick led to a Hull line-out which Harrogate stole. The ball was spun wide and Noel Minikin darted over to score in the opposite corner. Joe Rowntree’s attempted touchline conversion bounced off the upright. Harrogate’s next score came from another break out of defence. Hull’s Greg Lound gathered an attacking Harrogate chip ahead but his attempted clearance was gathered by Irvine who split the defence and created space for Luke Edwards to score.
Two former Harrogate players were involved in the final try of the half though, unfortunately, they now play for Hull. A powerful Ollie Cook midfield run burst through Harrogate’s defence and Will Robinson supported well for an excellently taken try. Cameron’s conversion made it 10-10 at the break.
Early in the second half, Irvine tried to set up a goal line counter attack but the ball was spilled and Hull were back on the attack. Desperate defence followed, Chris Wilson was judged to have prevented a try illegally and was yellow carded. Cameron’s penalty put Hull ahead again. Another attempted Harrogate break out of defence ended with another knock-on. Hull ‘s scrum drove Harrogate’s 7 man pack backwards and the ball was quickly passed along the line for James Kirk to score. Hull scored again before Wilson was allowed back on the field though there was an element of luck with this try. An Anthony Maka kick was charged down but bounced straight back into his hands. Cameron gratefully received the scoring pass and added the conversion.
With a full complement of players again, Harrogate mounted attacks. A quickly taken Phil Wickham penalty made an opening and the ball was quickly recycled along the line. Ed Smithies left the defence floundering with a brilliantly angled run and scored a great 30 metres try. Unfortunately, Harrogate made a mess of taking the restart kick and Hull were awarded an attacking line-out. This led to a series of forward drives which Harrogate defended well until they knocked on in an attempted turn over. Ollie Cook picked up from the base of the ensuing scrum and powered through to score.
For the remaining 20 minutes, Harrogate attacked continuously but a combination of bad handling errors and strong Hull defence seemed to keep them at bay. In the last move of the match, the forwards and backs combined to set up more waves of attack and Wilson dived over to score and gain a well deserved bonus point.
Hull: Martinson, Slingsby, Kirk, Cameron, Robinson, Lound, White, Longbone, Plevey, Dutton, Murphy, D Cook, Devonshire, Doughty (Maka 10), O Cook
Harrogate: Smithies, Minikin, Edwards, Quarendon, Roberts (Wickham 30), Irvine, Rowntree, Bergamanas, Maycock (Yorke 65), Fraser (Innes 60), J Brady, S Brady (65), Wilson, Heaton, Maud (Peacey 75).
Referee: Karl Kirkpatrick (RFU)