Leeds Corinthians RUFC 1st XV 18-31 Harrogate Pythons RUFC 1st XV
Match Report and Pictures by Julian Tatlow.
Harrogate Pythons 1st XV travelled to Leeds Corinthians expecting a tough challenge – which is just what they got. Playing against the wind in the first half The Pythons were quickly into their plays, recycling the ball through their strong runners. Will Clough was key at scrum half giving Jed Carr some great service to get his back line moving. Pressure on the home line from Sam Beagrie and Jon Pickard led to the home side’s indiscipline and Clough kicked 2 penalties. The home side began using the wind to gain territory and a well placed kick from their influential 10 set the winger clear to touch down in the corner, 5-6 on 25 mins. Caught off side on the stroke of half time and the home side slot the penalty to lead, 8 – 6.
With the wind behind them The Pythons began to build on their forward dominance, Marcus Fotherby and Calum Brock dominated the line outs and the tight five lead by captain Will Butler took charge of the set scrums and breakdowns. A break by Hugh Tatlow, deputising in the centre, feeds Joe Bentham linking with Beagrie who was pulled down on the 5m line. Desperate defence and the home side give a penalty. Butler opts for the scrum, the outcome is clear and Pickard controls the ball at number 8 and dots down. Clough with the extras, 8 – 13 on 50 mins.
An offside from the re start and Corinthians narrow the gap with a well struck penalty into the wind, 11-13. Straight back into the set plays and Adam Challis makes several charges supported by his pack. A well worked line out pulls Jordan Payne back metres short on a technicality. Butler held short and Sandy Dunlop firmly tackled 2m out. Joe Bentham’s breaks on the wing were rewarded when he fed Tatlow a perfect pass for the stand in centre to break two tackles and dive over in the corner, 11-18 on 60 mins.
A hanging ball from the kick off gives Corinthians possession on The Pythons 22m line. The experienced Y2 side build the pressure forcing a rushed clearance kick. The ball falls into the hands of the home side’s powerful second row and he bullocks over the line to score. The reliable home 10 adds the extras 18-18 on 70 mins.
Butler’s men accepted the challenge. George Booth, on as a finisher after several months off following an injury, added to the forward pressure. Brock, later named man of the match and Payne were skilful at the breakdown with Fotherby and Challis carrying hard. James Audsley-Beck linked well with Liam Kernaghan in mid field and the pressure bought out indiscipline for the home side. Audsley-Beck, taking over from the injured Clough, kicked 2 well struck penalties to put The Pythons ahead 18-24 with minutes left. Momentum was too strong for the home side and Sam Considine broke through tackles and use his pace to score under the posts, Audsley-Beck with the extras, 18-31 full time.
After the game Coach Bird said, “ It’s been another fantastic week for the club and this result keeps us firmly in touch with the top of the table. Previous fixtures against Corinthians had taught us that we were going to have to be dogged to find a result. The boys absorbed a lot of pressure in the first half and their defensive efforts were outstanding. A half time reflection, and now with the elements in our favour, the boys started to build their own passage of pressure and started to get a foothold in the game. Eventually our ability to play within some structure, keeping the ball through multiple phases allowed us to assert some dominance. This was a tremendous squad effort and once again we have shown our intent in Counties 2. It has been a dream start to the season.”