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High quality attacking rugby from Harrogate saw them score 4 tries within 27 minutes and race into a 24-0 lead. The pressure continued and they were 32-0 up at half time. These precise standards lapsed into some loose second half play and Rossendale’s never say die spirit made this period very competitive. Rossendale actually won the second half 26-29.
Making a welcome return from injury, winger James Audsley-Beck soon made his presence felt with a dazzling left wing break. The ball was recycled right, Rossendale went offside and Harrogate’s penalty led to an attacking line out. An efficient driving maul resulted in a Tim Heaton try, converted by Callum Irvine. On the other wing, Noel Minikin then came very close to scoring and the ball was again recycled. A sharp Irvine dummy and break was well supported by Kyle Dench who powered over under the posts for another converted try.
Four minutes later, Irvine again made a break and Audsley-Beck outstripped the defence to score. Advantage was then played when Irvine was “high tackled” and Oli Denton continued the attack. Quick ruck ball was snapped up by Chris Wilson for the bonus point try. Powerful midfield drives from Jake Brady committed several Rossendale defenders and Sam Bottomley orchestrated continual backs attacks. An Irvine penalty extended Harrogate’s lead and a powerful Bottomley break through the middle gave Minikin the space for the half’s final try.
Wilson’s ball handling is not his strongest point but, at the start of the second half, he made a very deft midfield offload from a sharp Phil Wickham break. Heaton carried the move on and drew the defence before releasing the ball to Denton for another excellent converted try. Rossendale then set up a series of driving mauls and substitute forward, Matt Smith crashed over for a try converted by Steve Nutt.
Harrogate’s next try came from some individual brilliance by Audsley-Beck. His pace outstripped the first line of defence and Becky then cleverly chipped for the corner and won the chase for a great try. Irvine’s touchline conversion put the icing on the cake. Rossendale continued to battle away and Harrogate’s increasingly loose play gave them further opportunities. Powerhouse lock forward, Paddy Pole drove through the home defence and Nutt was in support to touch down.
A Heaton midfield drive set up another Harrogate attack and Pete Wackett’s try brought up the home half century. Becky’s hat trick try then followed and it was almost a carbon copy of his previous brilliant chip and chase. A fine Denton cross kick to the opposite wing nearly produced another try but Rossendale intercepted and Nutt showed his pace to finish the move with a 40 metre scoring run. More Rossendale pressure followed and they were awarded a penalty try when Harrogate offended at a 5 metre scrum.
This earned Rossendale a well deserved bonus point and they got a fifth try after Harrogate’s Nathan Smith was yellow carded for illegally stopping a quickly taken penalty. Harrogate’s tackling seemed to be holding out but a wild pass out of defence was intercepted by visiting full back, Danny Harrison.
Denton, Minikin, Dench, Bottomley, Audsley-Beck, Irvine, Wickham, Metcalfe, Maycock, Browne, Harvey, Brady, Wilson, N Smith, Heaton, Wackett, Yorke, Johnson.
Harrison, van Zyl, Bedlow, T Albinson, Lowthian, Nutt, J Albinson, Greenhaulgh, Keys, Short, Pole, Fourie, Walker, Dauncy, Greenwood, Marshall, M Smith, Dennison
Ryan Smith (Midlands Division)