It was a fresh morning as Harrogate 2s made their way to play Sheffield 2s at Abbeydale. This game saw the return of some long term injury players and also a long time off for most of the 2nd team. A top of the table clash was exactly what was needed to work off the Christmas and New Year festivities. The morning started with some confusion to the pitches as standing water left the 1st team pitch seemingly unplayable. After much flirtation with the opposition coach, Cotton decided that the 2s pitch would do.
For the first ten minutes Sheffield kept possession of the ball well and looked to pile on the pressure. Harrogate’s defence soaked up the attack whilst encamped deep in their own 22, but they eventually gave way resulting in a number of penalties. Sheffield opted for the corner for all penalties. Up stepped Ianto who has returned from a long term injury after blowing his nose and temporarily losing the use of his eye.
You would have thought that now having the use of two eyes again there would be no issues, wrong. Clearly, now having both eyes made no difference to outcome of the lineout as Harrogate escaped with the ball on each occasion. Although, word on the grape vine is that Dave Owens has been giving Ianto some coaching tips to lineout throwing which explains a lot.
Harrogate then began to find some rhythm and pushed their way through a solid Sheffield defence. Sheffield soaked up the pressure well but eventually gave away a penalty in front of the sticks, with the added bonus of a yellow card awarded to Joe Cooke. Naturally, Harrogate fancied their chances at a scrum where Rob Holland was temporarily subbed out for the Viking. Again Sheffield halted the attack but to no end as Harrogate drew first blood with a try out wide after a number of phases. From a tight angle, the kick wasn’t converted.
Sheffield 0 – 5 Harrogate
From the kick off Sheffield looked to start building the pressure again but gave away free kick for offside at the kick off. Sheffield making many basic errors allowing Harrogate into the game. From the scrum Harrogate looked to apply more pressure but again stopped by a wall of blue and white. Harrogate decided to change things up with a little grubber through, but it was too long and gave Sheffield a 22 drop out. At this point Sheffield looked to gain as much territory as possible, up stepped Sheffield’s 10 who casually drop kicks the ball from the Sheffield 22 straight over the full backs head, into the wind and sun, added with a helpful bounce put Harrogate firmly back into their own half. Confidence was starting to brew within the Sheffield team and despite the fast line speed from Harrogate and they eventually gave in after Dan Williams crashed over the line with a 20m run up.
Sheffield 7 – 5 Harrogate
The remained of the half was played in the centre of the pitch with both teams making some basic errors and no defence wanting to give out. Eventually, hand bags were thrown about at a ruck where a Harrogate player was injured and a yellow card also given to Harrogate for an off the ball incident. In a strange turn of events however, Harrogate were then given a scrum, even after been given a yellow card, much to the confusion and displeasure of the large home crowd. This came to nothing as the speed and fitness of Sheffield’s back row (which included Rob Holland…) thwarted any effort to gain yards. Will Hodgson made a couple of daring snipes but again Harrogate were quick to shut down any space on the inside.
Cotton gave his usual shouty half-time talk based on how we were giving them the ball and keeping them in it.
The second half started very similarly to how the 1st ended with both teams applying pressure and Sheffield’s defence again remaining solid through some big tackles in the front and back row and the addition of JC using his head to great effect in both attack and defence. After some more injuries to Harrogate some pressure from the scrum led to the new fly-half fumbling the ball and Sheffield 10 crossing codes to play a bit of footy over the Harrogate try line for Alex Blueberry to score. However, he was called to be offside and Harrogate escaped with the penalty. Sheffield kept on the pressure and quickly discovered that we were better at stealing opposition lineouts, from the quick hands of Tom ‘Cat Burglar’ Womack, than we were at securing our own. Eventually, after many phases and some apparent silky hands from the other Womack, the worser Fairclough wiggled his way through defenders to score. Try converted.
Sheffield 14 – 5 Harrogate
Harrogate continued not to give in with some big carries from their back row and very fast defensive line speed. After some back and forth play in the centre of the pitch Sheffield had a scrum. This saw the long awaited return of the Yogi Bear (Lewis McKay) for a small cameo to see off the game. The backs were keen for the ball and so they got it, Sheffields 10 opted for a kick that went high and over the wingers head for a fortunate bounce that was poked through by Blueberry, Harrogate were closing in but Blueberry dived on the ball and popped it up to the captain Shorsey, after threats were heard of being dropped if he didn’t pass the ball. Shorsey trotted in from the 22 and scored in the corner. Try unconverted.
Sheffield 19 – 5 Harrogate
Overall, another win added to the tally, it was a very competitive game but plenty to be improved for next week’s away trip to Morley.
1.Kelly 2. Ianto 3. Cooke 4. Bain 5. Carrington 6. Adders 7. T. Womack 8. Holland 9. Hodgson 10. Leonard 11. A. Womack 12. King 13. Fairclough 14. Williams 15. Shore
16. Viking 17. Yogi 18. Campbell 19. Broadberry 20. Hutchinson
Williams, Fairclough, Shore