Otley victorious at Harrogate!
Otley ran in five tries to secure N2N rugby for next season, and the score-line could have been more as they had a further three disallowed.
Otley went to Ruddings Lane fired-up needing a point to ensure their survival, and came away with five and local bragging rights.
On a sunny day Harrogate kicked off and whilst they were building up attacks, they came up against Otley’s brick wall defence. Once the visitors got hold of the ball, in their 22, they moved it steady up the pitch forcing the visitors back at every opportunity with their driving mauls and a penalty. Eight minutes into the game Jack Blakeney-Edwards (pictured) tried to go over but went high, nevertheless his strength enabled him to get the get the ball down for his first try for the club. He celebrated by converting his try and the next four.
Four minutes later Harrogate responded with driving mauls from a line-out, from which a penalty try was awarded when Tiploma Kivalu came in from the side (and was yellow carded). Sam Fox converted to even up the score. Harrogate made a break down the left hand side, but Tom Hodson chased down Keane Naylor just short of the goal line to avert the danger. More Otley forward pressure followed and although they missed a penalty attempt, just after the quarter point having worked the ball through the hands in midfield they went left to enable Tom Hodson to score.
Now in the lead again, Otley wanted more. A Harrogate hand in the ruck just inside Otley’s half gave them the opportunity to work the ball forward into Harrogate’s 22 but the momentum was lost with a loose pass. Otley were still pushing ‘gate back and earned another penalty. Tom O’Donnell and Adam Blades combined allowing Jason Moss to crash over for his first try of the season. Just before half-time, Harrogate were awarded a penalty for a high tackle just outside Otley’s 22 allowing Fox to make the score 10-21.
In the second half Otley succumbed to ‘white-line fever; in their attempts to get a fourth try and the point they needed to stay up. Adam Blades went over in the left hand corner but the try was disallowed after a double movement. To add tension, Otley were penalised at the breakdown and from the line-out Ben Dixon was put into space and his unconverted try made the score 15-21.
Otley countered with Ben Steele regaining possession that nearly saw Tom Hodson go over for his second try of the afternoon. He burst through a gap and was about to touch the ball down closer to the posts when he was tackled. A three-match official conference followed in which it was decided he lost possession before grounding and so the score remained unchanged. Undeterred Otley pressed for that fourth try and went over again, but were adjudged to have been held up for a second time. In the ensuing scrum, Harrogate were penalised for bringing it down. At the second scrum, Harrogate were wilting and the referee awarded Otley a penalty try. The relief on the Otley side was palpable.
In the final few minutes Jack Mackie and Max Johnson combined to see Simon Willett get over the whitewash, only for him to be held up. Tom O’Donnell then dived over to score after good work from the backs, a fitting prize for his contribution to the game.
With two minutes to go Harrogate’s response falters after a poor pass is knocked on, and is compounded by a high tackle in Otley’s half. This puts Otley back in the Cockerel’s 5 metre area, although Tiploma Kivalu’s run under the posts is disallowed after an earlier Otley infringement. This allowed Harrogate to clear their lines in what turned out to be a kicking hack - play was forced into touch and Otley were the crowned winners.
Picture courtesy of Bev Clough Photography, there are further match photos here.