Harrogate set up a massive showdown with title rivals Chester this Saturday by beating Bradford and Bingley 29-5 at Claro Road.
The win saw Harrogate leapfrog Chester into top spot and an automatic promotion place before the two go head to head in a massive clash at Claro Road this coming weekend.
Saturday was another game played in dreadful conditions, which Harrogate won by skill, organisation and a tremendous collective team spirit.
There were naturally some stand out, individual performances but each player contributed hugely.
This includes the three substitutes who all made significant 2nd half contributions.
Harrogate dominated possession throughout the game. They had the edge over the much vaunted Bees pack in the scrums, made several big turnovers in the loose and had almost complete control
of the lines-out.
Tom Harvey, Chris Wilson and the absolutely outstanding Jake Brady stole several Bees’ balls and the pressure mounted. Bees defended valiantly throughout the match but the pressure had to tell.
Tim Heaton scored the first try after half an hour. He crashed over after Harrogate had mounted a 15 metres driving maul from an attacking line-out.
Oli Denton then glided over the mud to set up a counter attack from deep and another controlled Harrogate drive ended in a try for Nathan Smith, converted by Callum Irvine.
Denton then sprinted clear from a powerful Kyle Dench break but a knock on ended the move on the stroke of half time.
The same pattern continued after the interval. Harvey and Jake Brady linked to drive through the Bees defence and replacement full back Mike Aspinall made an incisive run from defence.
The ball was quickly recycled and Irvine scythed through the defence for a fine converted try.
The roles were reversed for Harrogate’s next try when Irvine made the break and created space for Aspinall to score.
The gutsy Bees pack then had their best period of the game and mounted a series of driving mauls on the Harrogate line.
No8, Dan Cookson tucked in behind his pack for a consolation try. The home pressure continued with scrum half, Phil Wickham linking effectively between forwards and
Strong running from Irvine and Sam Bottomley continued to test the visiting defence. Apart from their scrummaging duties, props, Dan Metcalfe and Jimmy Browne drove strongly at the Bees defence in the loose.
It was a strong break from Metcalfe which set up Aspinall’s second try on the right to make the final score 29-5.
Harrogate: Denton, Minikin, Dench, Bottomley, Audsley-Beck, Irvine, Wickham, Metcalfe, Maycock, Browne, Harvey, Wilson, J Brady, Smith, Heaton, Aspinall, Yorke, S Brady.
Bradford & Bingley: Scull, J Malthouse, Tafa, I’Sealy, Wellington, Bills, Kanauros, Paglau, Cochrane, Wederell, A Malthouse, B Mitchell, Ford, M Mitchell, Cookson, Raper, Fisher, Morton
Referee: Mick Harris (Northern Division).