Saracens rue poor start
Harrogate Georgians 52 Otley Saracens 34
Harrogate, lying second in the table and having lost only once, to the league leaders, since losing heavily to Otley in November were seeking revenge for that rare drubbing and more than achieved their aim against a Saracens side that was listless and disorganised in the first half. The poor defensive effort meant that the match was effectively lost by half time and the impressive turnaround in the second half performance was never going to do more than restore some pride to the men in black.
Let down by no shows and the late loss to injury during the warm-up of ever present centre, Alex Schofield
meant the back line was much changed and slow to gel. Defensive lapses gifted Harrogate three tries before Otley got on the scoreboard. Even then, they were not totally outplayed as the forwards controlled the rucks and generated some real forward momentum. This effort was characterised by Man of the Match, Matt Stephens
who gave the Saracens hope as he stretched to grab a try after a strong maul from a line out. He was again central in an almost carbon copy just before half time with Chris Matthews
scoring, but not before Harrogate had gleefully grabbed three more touchdowns. Otley went into the half time huddle facing a 40-12 deficit and seemingly little to play for.
The second period could hardly have been more different with Otley playing a much tighter game and driving on through their mobile pack. This was achieved despite a growing injury list, with the entire bench used and even Harry Garforth
, who had come to watch on his return from surgery, called into action. Fly half, Nick Baldwin
with the strong wind at his back kicked well to pin the home side in their own half and his forwards responded by rucking and mauling ruthlessly. The maturity and nous of props, Jon Richards
and Chris Booth
, promoted from the Viscounts, was complemented by the dynamism of the young back row and created some exciting passages of play. Strong mauling leading to tries from Simon Baker
, named joint Man of the Match and David Graham, demonstrated the Saracens’ intent and secured a bonus point. Graham’s deft box chip was gathered by full back James Matthews
for his score and speedster Jameel Karim
finished the game off with a flourish, intercepting and making a long run in for the second week in a row.
Tries: Stephens, Matthews C., Baker, Graham, Matthews J., Karim.
Conversions: Baldwin (2).
Otley Saracens: Molloy, Offer, Richards, Lawrence, Stephens, Matthews C., Baker, Studd, Graham (c), Baldwin, Karim, Brown, Barnes, Snook, Matthews J., Parker, Hope, Boulton, Schofield, Booth, Garforth.