Harrogate Pythons began their 2024 campaign against 2nd placed West Leeds. In their first league encounter West Leeds came out on top of a highly competitive game 37-22.
West Leeds took the lead mid way through the first half. A high ball was gathered by possibly the fastest winger in the league who rounded the home defence to score under the posts. A successful long range penalty and the score is 0-10 after 15mins.
Undeterred, Dan Bird’s men continue using their pack to drive the visitors into their own half. Quick recycling at the breakdown and Will Clough puts debutant flanker Will Milnes into space. He feeds supporting Tommy Carswell on the 22 who beats the defender to score. Clough adds the extras 7-10 on 20 mins. Clough kicks 2 more penalties and The Pythons have a deserved lead 13-10 at half time.
The Pythons kick off the second half. West Leeds fail to find touch with their clearance. Sam Beagrie makes 15m, Ed Challis powers on for 40m and feeds Tim Evans, returning from long term injury, who is stopped inches short. The ball is recycled quickly and Nathan Wake’s charge is held up. Quick ball again and evergreen Matt Leach bullocks over under the posts. Clough adds the extras 20-10.
Two more long range penalties from the visitor’s full back pulls the score back to 20-16 on 60 mins. The Pythons stay in control for the following 10 minutes but a turn over on the visitor’s 10m line gives the West Leeds pacey winger possession. A clean pair of heels and he touches down in the corner. A difficult conversion sees the score 20-23 on 70 mins. The Pythons return to the away side’s 22 but the defence proves solid. Full time.
Whittaker’s Gin man of the match was presented to a deserving Will Clough by Anne Henry.
After the game Coach Dan Bird said, “Another performance that we can be pleased about. Sadly not the result didn’t reflect the dominance within the match. We dominated large periods of the game and with the ball in hand we attacked with real purpose. Sadly at times we played high risk rugby in the wrong areas of the park and ultimately this cost us the result we deserved.”
This Saturday The Pythons travel to Beverley with hopes to repeat their victory earlier in the season.