Harrogate Pythons travelled to Hemsworth and welcomed back Gareth Drane, Andy Quirk and Ross Fallenstein who all returned from long term injuries. Gate started strongly and a knock on from the Hems stand-off was picked up by Nathan Wake who gained good ground. Drane broke from a solid scrum and fed the supporting Wake but his pass was just behind captain Sandy Dunlop. Gate were pinged for offside on the half way line and the Hems full back gave them the lead with a monstrous kick, 3-0 5 mins. A Hems kick was safely defused by full back Matt Halpin who was high tackled on half way. Fallenstein kicked for the attacking lineout. Hugh Tatlow took clean ball but the drive was repelled by Hems who were pinged for offside. Gate elected to scrum, and Drane again broke to the blind side to put Fallenstein in at the corner. 3-5 15 mins. Hems again kicked deep to Halpin but Hems gained a turnover and Gate were penalised allowing the full back to give Hems the lead back via a post. 6-5 20 mins. Another long kick from Hems was fielded this time by Quirk but his sliced clearance was run to the opposite wing by Hems and with Max Sharp committed to intercepting a gap opened and hems were in at the corner. 11-5 23 mins. Hems pressed again but Tatlow made a great break out of defence. Hems were penalised at the breakdown and Fallenstein kicked for the corner. Another clean catch by Tatlow saw Fallenstein put in a cross kick which Quirk collected and flicked up for Jon Pickard to score. Converted by Fallenstein. 11-12 30 mins. Gate were now full of confidence and another break from Tatlow saw winger Ollie Wheatley just tackled into touch. Another break by Drane saw his pass carried on by Dunlop but his looping pass to Halpin was agonisingly just behind the winger with the line open. On the last play of the half Jack Clarkson was tackled high which resulted in a yellow card for the Hems prop, but Fallenstein missed the resulting penalty to leave the half time score Hemsworth 11 Pythons 12.
Gate had a great start to the second half when a Hems kick was returned by Halpin who linked with Tatlow who again broke clean through the Hems defence and put Quirk over in the corner. 11 17 42 mins. Fallenstein was then laid out by a shoulder charge to the head which led to another Hems yellow and uncontested scrums for a while, Gate piled on the pressure and big drives from George Wilton, Matt Leach and wake led to Wheatley been held up over the line. Hems were penalised and with scrums now back to contested Gate elected to scrum and drove Hems backwards for Wilton to score. Converted by Fallenstein. 11 24 55 mins. Hems were now back to full complement but were met by determined Gate defence with Dan Shortman and Ian Binns leading the tackle count. A quickly taken tap penalty put Gate on the back foot and Hems went through the phases to score a converted try/ 18 24 63 mins. Hems came storming forward but a huge clearance kick by Fallenstein seemed to have relieved the pressure but Hems came back and crashed over in the forwards to take the lead with a converted try 25 24 73 mins. From the restart Gate showed great character by taking the game to Hems and Halpin made another telling break but his scoring pass to Wheatley was too low and knocked on. On the last play Gate lost a defensive scrum against the head and a cross kick was touched down in the corner. The conversion was indicated to have missed by both touch judges but the referee decided it had gone over to cost Gate a bonus point and leave the final score Hemsworth 32 Pythons 24.
This was a game which the Pythons know they should have won and will need to close down games better in the future. Next weekend the Pythons entertain league leaders Northallerton at Harrogate Railway.
Quilter Kids First Champions winner – November: Hinckley RFC