National Two North: Huddersfield 18-18 Harrogate

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Harrogate got their first points of the new National Two North season after a scrappy 18-18 draw at Huddersfield on Saturday.

Harrogate scored both the game’s tries and certainly played the more enterprising rugby.

However, their performance was littered with basic mistakes and they only broke Huddersfield’s well organized defence twice. Harrogate can and will play better than this.

Huddersfield kicked off, Harrogate made a mess of taking the ball and went offside at the subsequent maul. Joel Hinchcliffe’s straightforward penalty kick put the home side ahead. Harrogate responded with a series of attacks, sparked off by forward drives. Chris Wilson dominated the lines-out and Andy Boyde was at the heart of many of these forays. After 10 minutes, Nico Nyemba supported Boyde’s initial burst to score his maiden Harrogate try. Callum Irvine’s touchline conversion put Harrogate 3-7 ahead.

Huddersfield went back on the offensive and Hinchcliffe punished a Harrogate offside offence with another penalty goal. From the restart, Harry Parrish set up more Harrogate attacks with a brilliant mid-air take. Huddersfield’s defence held firm, they counter attacked and an offside offence led to Hinchcliffe kicking his 3rd penalty and putting the home side ahead.

After 25 minutes’ Huddersfield’s Charlie Martin was dispatched to the sin bin but Harrogate failed to take advantage of his 10 minutes absence. Soon after his return, he seemed to be in trouble again but it was Harrogate’s Kyle Dench who was sent to the bin for retaliation.

A minute into the second half, Harrogate were again adjudged to be offside and Hinchcliffe’s fourth penalty kick extended the home lead. A welcome feature of the game was referee, Brendan McGaffneys insistence on the ball being put in straight at scrums. Huddersfield were penalised for persistently failing to do this and Irvine’s penalty mad the score 12-10.

A period of Harrogate dominance followed and they forced the desperate Huddersfield defence to go offside. Irvine’s kick put Harrogate ahead but another Hinchcliffe penalty restored the home lead. Harrogate continued to attack and debutant winger James Morland ran strongly from defence. However, it was soon 18-13 when Harrogate were again penalised.

Concerted Harrogate attacks followed and, in the dying moments, Wilson drove over in the corner to score. Irvine narrowly failed to convert from the touchline and it was honours even

Huddersfield: Hodgson, Clark, Mitchell, Martin, S Walker, Hinchcliffe, Jeffrey, Battye, Thornton, Sanderson, Thompson, Rhodes, Malthouse, Hoyle, Sharp. Subs (all used):- Brown, Pursell, H Walker, Bills, Bird

Harrogate: L Minikin, Parrish, Dench, Frost, Edwards, Irvine, Matthews Boyde, Nyemba, Metcalfe, Brady, Wilson, N Minikin, Wood, Heaton. Subs (all used):- Reaveley, Smith, Yorke, Morland, Aspinall