Harrogate Pythons 14 v Knottingley 16
Pythons open up season with bonus point loss
Harrogate Pythons opened the season with a close encounter with Knottingley, played in front of a large, enthusiastic crowd at Harrogate Railway. Knottingley kicked off and an early Gate knock on gave Knottingley an attacking scrum. Despite some strong defence from Gate back row Luke Price-Gerrard and Dan Shortman, Knottingley kept possession well and their centre went through a gap to score a converted try under the posts. 0-7 3 mins. Knottingley pressed again from the restart but a strong tackle from Steve Smith regained possession and Ross Fallenstein put in a big pressure relieving clearance to touch. Knottingley’s troublesome centre then made another midfield break to put the winger away, but he was smashed into touch by a great cover tackle from full back Jake Harland. From Gate’s first serious spell of possession winger Ollie Wheatley was stopped by a high tackle but lost the resulting line out. Gate kept up the pressure by winning a Knottingley scrum against the head but strong carries by Nathan Wake and Kris Starkey were repelled by well organised defence. Another long kick by Fallenstein saw Matt Leach dislodge the ball in the tackle and quick ball and carry from Starks saw Knottingley penalised and a yellow card was shown. From the resulting scrum Gate pushed the Knottingley pack back over their line, the Knottingley flanker tried to kick the ball from the back of the scrum but it was picked up by scrum half Gareth Drane who dived over for the try. Fallenstein added the conversion to make the half time score Pythons 7 Knottingley 7.
Despite the fine end to the first period Gate stared the second half in sloppy fashion and conceded 2 penalties to extend the Knottingley lead to 7-13. Coach Dan Bird ran the changed and debutant Jed Carr made an immediate impression with a long run, Joe Bentham put in a grubber kick and quick ball saw the Knottingley defence opened up but the final pass flew into touch. Knottingley hacked clear into the Gate 22, but Wheatley saved the day with a lovely pickup and run out of defence. Gate were now getting quicker ball and with Liam Kernoghan orchestrating the Gate back line, gap began to show in the Knottingley defence and Fallenstein glided through to score under the posts and add the conversion. 14 13 65 mins. This time it was Knottingley’s turn to press and despite having their progress stopped by crunching tackles by Wake and Sandy Dunlop, they retained possession well and were rewarded with a penalty by the post which was converted. 14 16 70 mins. A frantic last 10 minutes saw Gate camped on the Knottingley 22, but controlled defence kept Gate shut out and allowed Knottingley to win the game 14 16.
A frustrating start for the Pythons who will need to improve their line out for the visit of Wensleydale next weekend.