Harrogate Pythons travelled to Keighley’s artificial pitch for the first ever league fixture between the clubs. Keighley are unbeaten at home for 4 seasons on their huge 4G pitch supplied by The RFU in 2018. The first half was an evenly contested match with both sides needing a well structured defence to hold back determined charges from both packs. The deadlock was broken by the home side with a well worked move creating space out wide for the winger to touch down in the corner, 5-0 after 30 mins.
The Pythons responded with powerful runs from Ed Challis, George Booth and debutant Pete Millward but spilled passes and poor ball retention kept them out. Following a period of intense pressure, quick ball from a Tom Stabler-Langan run found Hugh Tatlow powering down the touchline. 10m out he managed to off load in the tackle to supporting Max Sharp to touch down in the corner, 5-5 on 38 mins. Keighley slotted a penalty just before half time 8-5.
2 injuries early in the 2nd half and The Pythons begin to lose their defensive shape. Under the cosh for 20 mins Keighley run in 4 tries using their big forwards through the middle. The Pythons started a fight back spending most of the game in the Keighley 22 but with no scores. The game finished 39-5.
After the game Roy Mackay said,” Pythons belied their position in the league with a rousing first half performance going in 8-5 down. Good defensive organisation and use of the ball put Keighley on the back foot for much of the half. Unfortunately this was not to be repeated in the second half with a real drop off in successful first up tackles coupled with some key injuries meant a reshuffle in the backs. Looking at the game we played well above our league position against a very good side for 50 mins but we need to play for the full 80. Consistency is the key but having played 46 players over the 11 matches then it’s no surprise! You cannot fault the players for their efforts but playing alongside the same players week in week out does help.”
The Pythons entertain Old Rishworthians in a must win game at The JSG on 9th December, ko 2.15pm.