Disappointing start for the Pythons
Harrogate Pythons opened the new campaign with a tough fixture away at Knottingley. Knotts kicked off and Jon Pickard was flattened on receiving the ball. Gate cleaned the ball well but the clearing kick by Liam Kernoghan was charged down and Knotts were awarded a scrum under the posts. The Gate pack applied the pressure forcing a knock on at the base of the scrum and Kernoghan this time found touch. Gate’s first period of possession came up against some strong home defence, eventually forcing Rich Paterson to throw a rushed pass straight into touch. A series of penalties allowed Knotts to build possession and from a line out their scrum half linked with a supporting centre who cut through the Gate defenced and raced clear. He was tackled just short by the covering Matt Halpin and Ollie Wheatley but managed to regain his feet and score under the post. The conversion was successful. 7-0 14 mins.
Gate responded well when a long clearance was well returned by James Audsley-Beck and good hands through the forwards put Luke Price-Gerrard away up the wing but he was eventually tackled into touch. Knotts were then turned over by Dan Harland but Knotts regained possession and were stopped by a big tackle from Dan Shortman. A powerful break by Knotts No8 was stopped by Gareth Drane but good hands saw Knotts again attacking the posts but were stopped by Shortman. The 5-meter scrum saw Gate’s pack destroy the Knotts scrum and Gate were awarded a penalty and Will Clough cleared to touch. A strong burst from Nathan Wake and good Support from Pickard and Jack O’Hara saw a probing kick from Kernoghan put the Knotts full back under pressure but again good defence kept Gate out. A Gate lineout on their 22 was turned over by Knotts who spun the ball wide for the winger to have the ball dislodged by a Halpin tackle. The ball was picked up by the Knotts centre who accelerated over the line to score in the corner. The conversion was added. 14-0 38 mins. Knotts were penalised at the restart and Clough kicked for touch but again the lineout was lost leaving the half time score Knottingley 14 Pythons 0.
Early in the second half the influential Price-Gerrard took a knock and was replaced by debutant Adam Challis. Another Gate scrum pushed the Knotts pack backwards but this time the referee penalised Gate and Knotts kicked the penalty from 40 meters. 17-0 48 mins. Any Gate progress was halted by a series of penalties. Drane was penalised for pinching the ball out of the back of Knotts scrum and Will Butler was penalised for lifting his opposite number out of a scrum. Another penalty for offside saw Knotts stretch their lead to 20-0. Gate were now troubling the Knotts defence and following a scrum, Drane broke wide but his scoring pass to Ned Rutty flew into touch. Sandy Dunlop added some stability to the line out and good pressure from Rutty won an attacking lineout. A big carry in midfield from Butler was stopped just under the posts and Matt Leach was first in support to pick up and drive over the line. Clough added the extras. 20-7 75 mins. As Gate piled on the pressure Knotts received a yellow card for a high tackle. Pickard made a strong break and the ball was spun wide but Wheatley was bungled into touch to leave the final score Knottingley 20 Gate 7.
This was a disappointing start to the season for Gate with too many unforced errors and a misfiring lineout. However, once they found their rhythm they troubled a team who will be contending for promotion this season. Next week the Pythons entertain Rotherham Phoenix at Station View.