Harrogate Pythons suffered an agonising 10-3 defeat at home to closest rivals Old Grovians. ‘Gate kicked off and made their usual 100 miles per hour start, and after several phases Ivan Drane
tried to crash through the Grovians centres and was unceremoniously dumped. The early signs were promising as ‘Gate heaved Grovians off their first scrum, however shortly after they lost influencial flanker Ben Topham
to an ankle injury. Grovians had the first scoring change of the game, but the attempted drop goal was charged down ‘Gate continued to dominate territorially, but their lineout failed to function in the final 3rd of the pitch. With ‘Gate failing to penetrate the Grovians rush defence, Ian Bartlett
dinked a delicate kick over the defenders, and the bounce just eluded Ivan Drane
. Grovian’s kicking game was superb all match, and another astute kick by their standoff indirectly led to the only try of the game. The kick was fumbled backwards by full back Scott Stevenson
, but the fumble allowed Grovians winger to close him down, Winger Max Sharp
ran an intelligent line to support his full back, but the pass unfortunately hit Sharp on the shoulder and bounced up into the arms of the grateful Grovian’s winger, who then scampered in for a 50 metre try. The try was brilliantly converted from the touchline. 0-7 20 mins. This stirred up the Pythons who responded with some incisive bursts by Matt Leach
, 2 of which led to ‘Gate penalties, which were unfortunately missed by Sharp. Half time Pythons 0 Grovians 7.
The Pythons turned round with it all to do playing uphill in the second half, and what followed was perhaps the most intense half of rugby so far this season. ‘Gate literally threw the kitchen sink at Grovians, who resisted with an excellent defensive display, and it seemed like any ‘Gate handling errors were losing big yardage to Grovian’s excellent kicker. ‘Gate were now well on top, but another penalty was missed, a try (rightly) disallowed from Sharp for a foot in touch. John Michael
was then held up over the line and ‘Gate were awarded a 5 metre scrum. Ben Cooper
fed the ball in and the ‘Gate pack started heaving Grovians backward. The Grovians front row countered by standing up. The referee awarded ‘Gate a penalty, so they elected to scrummage again. This time the Grovians front row collapsed, but instead of awarding another penalty (or even Penalty Try
!) the referee reset the scrum. This time Michael picked up at the back and went for the line, only to be hit by a huge tackle. He stretched out in vain to ground the ball but unfortunately bounced it and the danger was averted. ‘Gate were not done yet and a great run by Rich Paterson
appeared to have put winger Liam Monaghan
in for a try but the referee (rightly) brought play back for crossing in the centres. Another big charge by Tom Everingham
led to a ‘Gate penalty in front of the posts. This was coolly slotted by Sharp 3-7 72 mins. However from the kick off ‘Gate conceded another penalty, and Grovian’s kicker completed a successful days work by nonchalantly slotting over from 40 metres. 3-10 75 mins. The last 5 minutes saw ‘Gate attempting to run everthing to snatch an elusive equiliser, but it just was not to be. Final score Pythons 3 Grovians 10.
This was a difficult defeat for the Pythons to take especially at home, however on another day it was a game that could easily go the other way. The Pythons will be kicking themselves (and probably missing) not to have scored from the second half scrum pressure.
The day wasn’t without its humour. A scrum set and the referee broke it up and said “sorry lads I’ve forgotten what I was going to say!” The game was a great advert for Yorkshire 4 rugby, played in tremendous spirits throughout. The Pythons will be looking forward to the return at Grovians.
5 Matt Leach
(continued his fine run of form)
4 Ian Bartlett
(intelligent performance from the newcomer)
3 Tom Everingham
(put in some huge hits)
2 Marc Ford
(totally bossed his opposite number at scrum time)
1 Rob Edwards
1 Ben Kernoghan
(shrugged off the broken nose with some big carries)
The Vets had a resounding 57-22 victory away at Roundhegians Vets. Point scorers were Si Womesley
(1T), Mike Ruthen
(1T), Jes Richmond (1T), Vinny (2T), Jamie Shields
(1T), Jon Godfrey (2T), Mark Dawson
(1T) and Glenn Temple