Harrogate Pythons welcomed newly relegated West Park Leeds to a rain soaked Jim Saynor Ground for the first ever meeting between the 2 clubs. Jed Carr kicked off long and the ball appeared to be knocked forward behind the WPL goal line, however a line out was awarded. The Pythons huge front row of Nino Cutino, Will Butler and Nathan Wake forced the WPL pack backwards at the first scrum and an excellent pickup from Scott Irvine and offload to Max Sharp saw WPL penalised in front of the posts. Will Clough stepped up to give the Pythons the early lead. 3-0 2 mins. Pythons regained territorial advantage following a smart grubber kick from James Audsley Beck but the WPL clearance was unfortunately knocked into touch by Jed Wolfram. A WPL break from defence was stopped by a Clough cover tackle and Jordan Payne forced a turnover and WPL were penalised. Clough doubled the lead with a well struck penalty. 6-0 8 mins. WPL then had their first period of sustained pressure only to be met by determined Pythons defence until the referee spotted an offside and awarded a penalty in front of the posts. 6-3 18 mins. More good ground was gained by a clever Audsley-Beck cross kick which was chased down by Sam Beagrie but momentum was again lost when the resulting line out was ruled not straight. Marcus Fotherby stole a line out and following a Wake charge, Irvine broke the line but was called back as a WPL player lay injured on the floor. Then WPL stole the ball from a Pythons scrum but Clough won the chase back to end the danger and the first half ended Pythons 6 WPL 3.
WPL started the second period on the front foot but met with some ferocious defence with Jon Pickard tackling well and George Booth meeting charging forwards head on. Play became increasingly scrappy as the weather deteriorated and WPL kept territorial advantage with the Pythons conceding a string of penalties. A WPL wide attack was stopped by a Wolfram tackle as both defences were now coming out on top. Beagrie was awarded a yellow card for a ruck clearance and this time WPL went for the posts. 6-6 60 mins. A searing break from Audsley-Beck from a Calum Brock lineout gained the Pythons good ground and they camped on the WPL 22. Booth charged for the line and was stopped just short for Butler to pick up and crash over for the try. 11-6 72 mins. Pythons pressed again following a scrum against the head and a good run down the wing from Ollie Wheatley, but WPL held out to leave the final score Pythons 11 WPL 6.
This was a scrappy win for the Pythons who will be concerned about the high penalty count but the horrible conditions did not help. The Pythons have a week off next weekend followed by the visit of Old Otliensians.