Pythons Get First Win in Counties 2

Harrogate Pythons RUFC 1st XV 27 – 22 Wheatley Hills RUFC

The Pythons entertained Wheatley Hills in their first Y2 home game and their first ever fixture against the Doncaster side.  The decision had been made to continue with the pre match lunch for sponsors, guests and the Wheatley Hills committee with the whole ground joining in with the 2 minute’s silence held before the game.

The away team were quickly into their stride with skilful recycled ball.  The Pythons defence held firm securing a penalty for off side at the ruck.  Will Clough takes play to half way, Jon Pickard secures the line out but is penalised for bumping into his own player.  The Pythons defence came into its own once again with Tim Evans and Hugh Tatlow holding firm in mid field.   Play continued with phases around the away team’s 22m line until the away team folded under pressure and were caught off side.  Clough is successful with his kick, 3 – 0.

The Doncaster team were quick to show why they were promotion contenders last season.  Clinically recycled ball from the kick off and a perfectly timed lob pass puts their pacey winger in space.  He rounds the defender and touches down close to the posts, 3-7 on 15 mins.

It was now down to The Pythons to show why they deserved to be in Counties 2.  Captain Will Butler lead a number of driving runs, supported by Jordan Payne and Adam Challis.  Clough gains valuable yards with his trade mark mazey run, feeds Evans and his attempted off load was knocked backwards by the defending full back  Python’s winger Ollie Wheatley was alert to the bouncing ball and grounded it.  Clough adds the extras, 10 – 7 on 20 mins.

A penalty at the kick off and the away team level it at 10 – 10.  The Pythons were keen to show their pre season work and equally skilful phases and a powerful drive from Tatlow releases James Audsley-Beck to Max Sharp who crosses the line only to be bought back for a forward pass.  Wheatley Hills pick and drive from the scrum taking play to half way.  Marcus Fotherby recovers the ball, Challis and Matt Leach carry to the 22m line where Wheatly Hills are penalised for not releasing.  Clough gets the lead back 13-10.

The Doncaster team were back on the offensive testing The Python’s defence.  Sheer frustration leads to a penalty for side entry and a stern telling off for the Hills winger reinforced with a yellow card.  Clough clears to the opposition 22 and Payne, Butler and Fotherby work the phases.  Clough feeds Butler 15m out who delivers a perfectly timed pass to Tatlow who brushes the defender aside to score next to the posts.  Clough with the extras, 20 – 10 on 30 mins.  Play was confined between the 10m lines for the remaining 10 minutes of the half.

With some clear instruction from both coaches the second half began with some determined play from both sides.  Fotherby lead the way for The Pythons with dominant line out play.  Harry Parrish showed his defensive line was not to be crossed with some huge tackles on the away team’s runners.  A clearance penalty fails to find touch and Parrish shows his offensive game.  Stepping players he gains 30m, Butler, Wake and Pickard move the ball to Evans on half way and his shear power takes him through 3 tackles to score under the posts.  Clough with the extras, 27 – 10 on 50 mins.

Wheatley Hills begin to draw on their many years of experience in higher leagues.  Their pressure and consistency intensified from the kick off.  Clough makes a try saving tackle 5m’s out.  Wheatley Hills secure a penalty at the line out for not releasing and a quick tap and drive puts them over in the corner, 27 – 15 on 60 mins.

Indiscipline in The Pythons and some wayward kicks, unnecessary line out infringements and The Doncaster side have a scrum on the Python’s 5m line.  A steady scrum and the number 8 dives over to score, 27 – 22 on 70 mins.  The Pythons now needed to dig deep to get the initiative back.  Calum Brock, Tatlow and Pickard never stepped backwards.  Clough relieved the pressure with some great kick out of hand but was forced to leave the field with a knee injury.  Seeing the opportunity was beginning to flow away, it was Wheatley Hills who took the wrong decisions and started making the telling errors.  Fotherby, Brock and Tatlow kept their tackle count up in mid field.  Fotherby steals a ball at a line out with Wheatley Hills penalised for not releasing on the ground.  Sharp taps the ball and kicks into touch, full time.

Coach Dan Bird said, at the end of the game, “It was great to secure our first win in this league especially in front of a jubilant home crowd. It affirmed the squads belief that we can more than handle ourselves a level up. The boys were really clinical on the front foot in the first half and took the points when they were on offer. A fast start to the second half, followed by a solid defensive effort, ensured we emerged on top after the 80”.

The Whittaker’s Gin man of the match was decided by Richard Bussey and awarded to Will Clough.

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