Harrogate Pythons hosted Bradford Salem RFC for their first ever fixture at The Jim Saynor Ground. Salem were successful at home earlier in the season in a hard fought game.
The Pythons showed greater intent in the first 20 minutes. Determined carries from Pete Millward, Hugh Tatlow and Tim Evans put the away side on the defensive. From a scrum on half way Ed Challis picked up from number 8, fed to Mike Adams who showed quick hands to Max Sharp who slotted a perfectly weighted grubber kick for Nick Bell to collect, outpace the defence to score in the corner, Jed Carr with the extras 7-0 on 5 mins. The Pythons kept up the pressure with Challis, Evans, Tatlow and Sam Rowntree all halted just short of the line.
Salem started to build field position and a catch and drive from a lineout gets them on the scoreboard, 7-7 on 15mins. Strong running through the mid field has The Pythons defending hard under their posts. Quick ball puts the Salem winger into the corner, 7-12 on 20mins. Carr narrows the gap with a penalty 10-12 but Salem charge down a clearance kick to score in the corner 10-17. Salem widen their lead 10-24 half time.
As in the first half The Pythons controlled the game in the early stages. A powerful run along the touchline puts the Salem winger virtually on the try line. Salem stack the breakdown and drive over for the score, 10-31. Some indifferent tackling allows Salem to extend their lead 10-38. The Pythons return to their strengths of controlled phases using their powerful ball carriers. Luke Price-Gerrard is held up on 3m, evergreen Steve Smith regains the ball and drives over for the score, Carr with the extras, 17-38 full time.
After the game Coach Dan Bird said, “There were many positives to take from the weekends performance, notably the threats we continue to pose teams when we have the ball in hand. The opening score from Nick Bell on debut was one example of this. Despite strong spells in the game, our transitions and 1st up tackles cost us the result we were pushing so hard for. I’m really proud of the playing squad and their ‘never say die attitude’, the one thing is certain is that nobody visits the Jim Sayner Ground and gets and easy fixture. The next 3 games, at home, are now must wins! “
The Whittakers Gin MOM was awarded by Bruce Blackburn to Nick Bell.
The Pythons entertain Pocklington on 3rd Feb, Bradford & Bingley on the 17th and Old Rishworthian on 24th – all 2.15pm kick offs.