To complete the red letter occasion, it was the first League fixture between the Clubs for 12 years, Smithies scored a trademark try and was deservedly made man of the match.
Harrogate’s pack was the main difference between the sides with back row forwards Tim Heaton
and Ryan Peacey in outstanding form. Their aggressive defence won Harrogate an early turnover but Otley were awarded a penalty from which they set up a driving maul. Tom O’Donnell drove strongly for the line to put the visitors 0-5 ahead.
The next score came from a quickly taken penalty after Otley’s James Twomey held on illegally after a tackle. It was then the home side’s turn to set up a try scoring driving maul, scored by Peacey and converted from the touchline by Callum Irvine
. Otley continued to compete with strong running from centre, Jack Mackie, but Peacey won vital turnover ball on the ground, Otley went offside and an Irvine penalty made it 10-5 at the break.
Otley went on the offensive from the restart but Harrogate’s pressure defence forced visiting Tom Rock to knock on. A brilliant Irvine half break gave Mike Aspinall enough room to open up the Otley defence and give Smithies the scoring pass. Irvine was unfortunately injured in the move but Aspinall completed it with a fine conversion.
An Otley penalty from replacement full back, Nick Coupland, put them back in contention but Harrogate’s forward dominance kept play in the Otley’s territory. Two powerful Peacey runs should have resulted in tries but his unselfish passes went astray. In one of Otley’s few incursions into home territory, Harrogate went offside and a Coupland penalty gave the visitors a sniff of a bonus point. However, a brilliant Harrogate turnover forced Otley to go offside and concede a further 10 metres by arguing about the decision. Aspinall’s penalty goal restored the 9 points difference.
Smithies, Roberts, Bottomley, Aspinall, Heylings, Irvine (Davies 48), Wickham, Bergmanas, Maycock (Yorke 57), Innes (Fraser 40), J Brady (Harvey 65), S Brady, Wilson (Maud 65), Heaton Peacey
Collins (Coupland 49), Twomey, Keinhorst, Mackie, Naylor, Rock, Gemmell (Harris 73), Burkinshaw (McMillan 54), Steel, Blades, O’Donnell, Willet (Baker 58), Williams Temm, Hill.
Tom Foley (RFU)
Match report by Bill Barrack
Photos by David Aspinall