Pythons crash to defeat against Castleford
Harrogate Pythons welcomed Castleford to a boggy Station View hoping to make it 6 wins on the bounce. Cas kicked off to Jon Pickard who returned to kick aggressively to draw a penalty from Cas. Good ball off the top of the lineout from Hugh Tatlow led to the Pythons running some phases with charging runs from Will Butler, Tim Evans and Luke Price-Gerrard. The ball was spun wide to the space created by the phases but Jed Carr’s pass to Ed Challis was ruled forward. A long clearance kick from Cas was collected by Joe Bentham who sprinted into space and linked with Ollie Myers but again the pass this time to Max Sharp was forward. Tatlow stole a Cas lineout and drove through the middle of the Cas line and won a penalty. Sharp stepped forward to get the scoreboard rolling with a well struck kick. 3-0 12 mins. James Audsley-Beck collected the restart and ran round the Cas defence but his pass to Challis flew into touch.
The Pythons conceded an offside penalty on the half way line and the Cas scrum half stepped up to casually slot home the long range kick. 3-3 20 mins. Cas were now gaining in confidence and a rolling maul was stopped illegally by Dan Bird, Cas took a quick tap but the danger was snuffed out by Bentham who flew out of the line to make the tackle. Carr then missed touch with a clearing kick but it was collected by Bentham who was stopped by a high tackle which earned the offender a yellow card. There followed two clean breaks by Bentham and Sharp but both opportunities were lost as support could not get close enough. On the stroke of half time, Tatlow again won clean lineout ball and the drive by Sandy Dunlop, supported by Grant Weatherston was stopped under the posts. A Cas defender somehow won the ball and kicked the ball off the park to leave the half time score Pythons 3 Cas 3.
Dan Bird rang the changes and the Pythons started the second period on the front foot. Steve Youngson had a strong run down the wing and Jack O’Hara added some driving runs and strength to the scrum. A strong run from Steve Lennox saw Audsley- Beck pick out a good line from Sharp who crashed through before popping an inside ball to Tatlow to score under the posts. Sharp added the extras. 10-3 55 mins. Cas responded strongly with their scrum half and No8 combining well and causing problems. Cas forced their way to within 5 metres of the Pythons line but a loose pass was intercepted by Youngson who raced into the clear but was caught and tackled 10 metres from the Cas line by a great recovery tackle from the Cas winger.
Rob Cooper gained the Pythons an attacking line with a good penalty touch find. The ball was won and the Pythons pack began to drive towards the line but were penalised for offside in the maul. Cas broke out and were stopped by a Bentham recovery tackle. Ryan Bradshaw attempted to win the ball in the ruck but was yellow carded for kicking the ball. Cas had a series of pick and drives which were repelled by the Pythons defence until their No8 spotted a gap to crash over. 10-8 70 mins. A Cooper kick was then charged down and Audsley-Beck had no option but to kick the ball dead. From the scrum the Cas No8 picked up and found a great line by the Cas centre who crashed over for the try. The conversion was successful. 10-15. 76 mins. Cas were penalised at the restart and Cooper found another good touch. The lineout was won and the Pythons attacked the Cas line with a series of pick and drives. The Cas defence held strong forcing the Pythons into a knock on to leave the final score Pythons 10 Castleford 15.
A frustrating day for the Pythons who will be looking to cut back on the errors and the penalty count next weekend when they travel to Bramley in the cup.