Harrogate won this pulsatingly tight match with a converted try on full time. At that time, Otley were 38-34 down at Hull Ionians but Harrogate’s survival celebrations proved to be premature. An Otley injury time try led to their survival and Harrogate going down to National 3 North next season.
Much of Harrogate’s pitch was under water yesterday so there was a serious likelihood of the game being postponed. This inevitably led to an exceptionally heavy pitch which suited the Lions’ forward dominated style of play. In spite of this, Harrogate put pressure on Leicester’s first scrum and scrum half, Craig Hampson, stole the ball at the back. A long Lions’ line kick was then fielded by Callum Irvine who beat 3 men in a dazzling counter attack but unfortunately lost the chase to gather his attacking chip ahead. The Harrogate attacks continued and a Leicester offside offence gave Jack Latus the opportunity to put Harrogate into a 3 point lead.
Leicester then won Harrogate line-out ball and mounted a series of driving mauls. Harrogate went offside to enable James Stokes to equalise. The same pattern continued and further good controlled Lions’ drives led to flanker, Drew Rudkin, squirming through to score.
Harrogate still looked the more threatening side in the backs but were thwarted by a combination of the conditions and a strong Leicester defence. A Latus penalty reduced the deficit after Leicester went offside but Stokes soon restored the status quo after a similar Harrogate offence. Adventurous Harrogate back play continued for the rest of the half but their only reward came from another Latus penalty from yet another Lions’ offside offence.
After an even start to the second half, Harrogate backs and forwards combined well to pressurise the visitors. Leicester came into the side at a Harrogate drive and another faultless Latus kick restored the home lead. More Harrogate attacks followed but, when Leicester counter attacked, Harrogate were penalised for illegally pulling back and more powerful Lions’ drives were set up from the attacking line-out. Harrogate’s Jimmy Browne was judged to have illegally prevented a try and was dispatched to the sin bin while Leicester were awarded a penalty try.
A further Harrogate offside offence led to a 12-21 Lions lead but Harrogate were far from finished. Mr consistency, Tim Heaton, had another outstanding game and one of his powerful midfield drives led to a further Leicester offside offence and another Latus penalty goal. Jake Brady then drove strongly and Heaton again powered through to force Leicester into conceding yet another Latus penalty goal.
Harrogate were now in complete control and the Leicester defence again had to go offside to prevent a score. This resulted in a yellow card for Mitchell Todd and another attacking Harrogate line-out. Mike Aspinall powered through the cover for a fine converted try which was thought to be Harrogate’s salvation. The rest is history.
Star Man – Tim Heaton, Harrogate
Referee – John Meredith, RFU
Attendance – 650
HT 9-11 FT 25-21
Penalties Latus x 6
Tries Rudkin & Penalty Try
Penalties Stokes x 3