Harrogate Pythons began their Level 7 season at home against the North Leeds side Leodiensian RUFC – the highest level The Pythons had ever played in. With a good crowd and great weather at The Jim Saynor ground, Leos kick off and The Pythons are penalised just outside their 22. A sharp kick into the corner leads to a 5 metre line out. Clean ball and the away team score. 0- 5 after two minutes. Play resumes with ball carries through the middle by Hugh Tatlow and Ed Challis. Pressure at the breakdown, Will Clough kicks the penalty. 3-5 on 3 mins.
Jed Carr brings his back line into play with Sam Beagrie making good ground. Possession is lost following a knock on, Leos scrum. Leos take scrappy lineout ball on the five metre line and continue the drive towards The Pythons line. An offside in front of the posts gives the away team a shot at goal 3 – 8 after 10 minutes. Leos gain a line out on The Pythons 22. Clean ball and well rehearsed move leaves the centre to touch down next to the posts. 3 – 13 on 15 minutes.
The Pythons win the restart and Carr steps through the middle into the away teams 22 where Leos give away a penalty. Clough slots the penalty 6 – 13 on 30 minutes. Carr once again brings his back line into play utilising Max Sharp and Sam Rowntree both making good ground. Leos regain possession through a scrum, make progress through the mid field and good support running gives the Leos flanker a clear run in from the 22. 6 – 20 on 30 minutes.
The Pythons gain possession in midfield from a knock on. Carr gets his back line going. The ball moves quickly to Sharp, passes to Saul Adshead, who passes inside to Sharp, back to Adshead who uses a strong handoff as she dives into the corner to score. 11 – 20 on 38 minutes.
The Pythons begin the second half with some hard defending from Challis and Rowntree to keep Leos at bay. A penalty is awarded under pressure 15 metres from The Pythons posts 11 – 23 on 50 minutes. Luke Price-Gerard feeds from the set piece, Tim Evans charges forward. Leos defence hold against drives from Tatlow and Challis. The referee halts play for a clash of heads, a Leos player receive a yellow card. Pythons opt to scrum in front of the posts. Tatlow feeds Clough from the base, Carr steps through, Pythons narrowly lose in Level 7 debut
crosses the line but the referee disallows the try for Carr allegedly using his forearm to break a tackle. Leos clear the line.
Leos mount an aggressive attack but some hard tackling from Challis and Rowntree earns the home team a penalty. A series of drives takes The Pythons into the Leos 22. Prop Steve Smith alert at the breakdown, spots a gap and barges through from 15 metres to score next to the posts. Clough with the extras 18 – 23.
The Pythons were at last beginning to dictate the game. One final drive takes play 10m from The Leos line but a penalty with minutes to go gives the away team chance to relieve their lines. Final score 18 – 23.
After the game Coach Dan Bird said, ”The result wasn’t as we had hoped but one game won’t define the season. A slow start meant we were chasing the game after 20minutes. The comeback was on but sadly time ran away.” He added, ”as a coaching group we felt that there were loads of positives to take away from the weekend and we’ll build on this during training this week.”
The Whittaker’s Gin Man of the Match was awarded by Howard Illingworth to Saul Adshead.