This was the first encounter between the two sides, Acklam have been playing in the North east leagues until recent seasons and were the plate winners last year.
Acklam despite having a couple of players cry off at the last minute fielded a big side and certainly had the “weight advantage” although from the fifth minute it became evident that Gate had the power and pace out wide to cause them real problems.
Following a knock on by Acklam Gate moved the ball away from the scrum with Will Hebb and Liam linking well before first Townie and then Woody drawing and giving well timed passes to give Harry the space and time to coast round the outside for the first score of the day superbly converted by Crofty.
Almost immediately we gave away a soft interception try to narrow the gap to 2 points but responded magnificently to force a fifteen minute period of pressure during which time we were a constant threat and scored three tries the pick of which was a blistering solo try from Elliott Lewis who gathered a clearance kick before evading the onrushing Acklam players and then beating a further three players before scoring out wide, again with Crofty adding the extras to establish a 28 v 5 lead.
At this point in the game gate became over expansive and started to get sloppy allowing the Acklam pack the opportunity to exert pressure with their forwards used constantly on pick and go moves, as they got into their stride we inexplicably started to make fundamental errors, too oten the first up tackling was too high allowing them to get over the gain line and finally they got their just rewards with a well taken try out wide just before half time.
The half time break was used to reinforce the need for Gate to get back to the basics of controlling the ball and showing more patience before unleashing the backs. It certainly worked and from the off Gate were much more controlled, making fewer errors and constantly finding good lines of running and space out wide, it was very much to the credit of the Acklam team that they battled every inch of the way and made Harrogate earn each of the three tries scored in the second half.
Harrogate played some enterprising rugby and ran some great lines with Henry Clarkes try finishing off a great series of play.
Man of the match was a tough call but in the end Elliott Lewis was the worthy recipient for another great performance in attack and defence, secure under the high ball and always able to get past the gain line, oh and not forgetting his superlative try, reminiscent of Jason Robinson or Ben Foden at their best.
It was great to have the likes of Harry Weatherall, Henry Clarke
, Dan Newbold, Jed Carr
and Fatlam playing today and gave a rare opportunity to introduce rolling subs, all those who went on played their part and added to the team.