Harrogate U15s start their 2012 series of games with a match up against local rivals Ripon. Played over three 20min periods the matches gave the clubs large squad an opportunity to get the joints working and to blow the tubes out.
The focus of the day was to get back into the swing of rugby after a 3 week gap from playing and, although a hard sprint training session on Thursday got the most of the squad to burn off some chocolate, the game against against Ripon RUFC was the first contact rugby played for 3 weeks.
Although starting slow Harrogaste got into the game after giving Ripon too much room to play for the first 10 minutes. Once they raised their game and matched the visitors in defence the game proved to be an enjoyable encounter between two well matched sides.
While Harrogate were waking up Ripon moved into a swift lead with two tries scored with conversions to take a 12 point lead over the home team. Once the home team upped their game and started to compete at the tackle and, impressively, at the ruck they started to dominate. In the best Harrogate style, moving the ball wide Jack London
found holes in the visitors defence, slicing through the gaps to run 50m to score,. Converting his own try pulling the score back to 7 - 12.
Harrogate were son back on the score sheet with Scott Irvine
showing the power that gained him a Yorkshire U15 selection be driving over from short range. Jack London
converted again to take the home side into a 14 - 12 lead in the first period of 20 minutes.
While it would have been nice to keep many of the players on the pitch the whole squad was to play and Harrogate ran the changes for the second period with nine players changing for the second period.
Knocking Harrogate's rhythm the visitors took full advantage bagging three scores in the second period, two from close range and one through their new pacy left winger who showed a clean pair of heels to the Harrogate defence. The second period was clearly Ripon's and the second 20minutes finished with the score at 14 - 29.
Moving into the final period Harrogate made further changes introducing a further five players to give all 29 players a run out on the day. With a further six players unavailable for the game and three further players injured and unavailable the coming months will be challenging.
In the final period Ripon, with a more consistent team performance throughout the match, took control and, in the final 12 minutes scored a further three tries, converting two, to round off the match winners.
However the primary goals were achieved in getting all players a run out while some aspects of play were good a little rust still needs to be brushed off yet.