Pythons hold on for win at Hemsworth
Harrogate Pythons travelled to Hemsworth for a must win fixture against a traditionally strong side. “We’ve been forced to make some changes in our back line due to some un availabilities and injuries but I’m confident these will be positive”, said Coach Bird.
The game kicked off in winter sunshine with The Pythons quickly getting into their phase play. A high shot from the home side gave The Pythons a penalty quickly taken by Will Clough putting Matt Leach in the open only for the referee to call a forward pass. The resulting home scrum was marched backwards by the dominant Pythons pack placing the home back line off side – Jed Carr drilling the penalty to the Hemsworth 22m line. Set piece dominance gave The Pythons more phase play in mid field with strong carries from Sandy Dunlop and Nathan Wake. The frustrated home side were caught off side and Clough kicked the penalty, 0-3 (15 mins).
The home side were quickly back on the defensive following the kick off. Strong carries from the returning Ed Challis and Luke Price-Gerrard took play into the home 22 giving The Pythons another penalty. Quickly taken by Clough, tackled within 10m and the referee playing advantage, the advancing Pythons pack won the breakdown with Carr using a perfectly weighted kick-pass to Ollie Wheatley on the far wing who gathered safely and touched down in the corner. 0 – 8 (20 mins).
A number of unforced errors and some missed tackles in midfield gave the home side the advantage and some quick hands saw a gap open in The Pythons defence taken by the home side centre to touch down in the corner, 5 – 8 (25 mins). Challis once again gave The Pythons strong field position with his driving runs. Supported Hugh Tatlow and Dan Shortman the advancing Pythons were awarded a 5m scrum. The Pythons front row of Wake, Dunlop and Steve Smith drove through Hemsworth pack with number 8 Tatlow picking up and putting the ball over the line only for the referee to award the home side a penalty for the Pythons pack showing dissent for not being awarded a penalty try.
Play remained in the home side’s 22 but was scrappy with both sides knocking on. Hard driving from The Pythons put Hemsworth back on their 5m line with a clearance kick knocked on close to half way. The resulting scrum saw the ball fly out on The Pythons side catching them on the back foot with The Hemsworth 9 quickest to react. Again quick hands and some missed tackles resulted in a try 10 – 8 (40 mins)
The second half continued with Pythons pressure. An infringement at the breakdown saw Clough just push the penalty wide of the posts. Steve Kirkpatrick replaced the injured Clough moments later and he was quickly into the action. A breakdown on The Hemsworth 5m line won by The Pythons had the ball knocked out of Kirkpatrick’s hands. The penalty was taken as a scrum and Tatlow touched down at number 8, 10 – 13 (55mins).
A series of unforced errors gave the home side an opportunity to turn the pressure back on The Pythons, their defence held but a tackle called late by the referee gave Price-Gerrard 10 minutes in the bin, however, the blatant punch in retaliation from the home player remained unpunished. Changes in the Pythons front row saw Will Butler returning from injury and Grant Weatherston gaining his 100th appearance for the club.
Max Sharp (also on his 100th appearance) cleared from some scrappy play with a 60m run. Tackled just short of the line and with good support the home side held on in the tackle giving away the penalty converted by Kirkpatrick 10 – 16 (70 mins). With the partisan crowd becoming even more vocal the home side began to pile on the pressure. Once again the defence held firm with huge tackles from Dunlop and Tatlow. Indiscipline from the home side saw a penalty for not releasing the ball reversed in favour of The Pythons for comments to the referee. Carr’s clearance to halfway saw Dan Bird come on and make an immediate impact in defence. The home side had one more penalty awarded for entering from the side, successfully converted 13 – 16 (77 minutes).
The Pythons held on through the remaining phases only conceding possession once for a surprising crooked feed at the scrum. But, set piece dominance prevailed giving Carr a simple chip kick into touch for the whistle, full time 13 – 16.
“It’s a difficult game against Hemsworth, they have great handling skills and hardly ever make mistakes”, said Bird, ”It was good to see how we had territory for most of the game but, Yorkshire 3 defences can be tough to break through, this is a competitive league. We will sharpen our game away at Skipton next week”, he added.