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In an exhilarating first half, Harrogate had almost complete possession and stretched the Lymm defence with a stream of attacks.
They’d secured the 4th try bonus point within 25 minutes and raced into a 33-0 lead at the interval. Lymm mounted a spirited fight back in the second half but had to be content with a solitary try against a further 21 points from Harrogate.
An early Callum Irvine cross kick almost gave the opening try to the speedy Pete Wackett but his foot just grazed the touchline. Harrogate won the subsequent Lymm line-out and set up a series of forward drives. Jake Brady, who had a towering game in the second row, drove over for a try, converted by Irvine. More slick passing put Sam Bottomley away for a 20 metres break on the left and he slipped the ball to another of the day’s outstanding players, hooker Aarin Yorke. He showed electric pace to outstrip the defence for another converted try.
The home domination continued and a brief Lymm counter attack was ended by a bone crunching Yorke tackle. A powerful Kyle Dench run then carved a hole in midfield and Bottomley was on hand to accept the scoring pass. The bonus point came from a dazzling Wackett break which created space for Oli Denton to touch down. Irvine converted well from wide out. The Wackett and Denton combination also created the final try of the half. James Audsley-Beck still had defenders to beat when he received the ball but he danced his way through for a scintillating converted try.
Harrogate opened the second half with controlled forward drives and prop, Jimmy Browne crashed over to score. A few minutes later, Browne took the eye again for a different reason. A Harrogate knock-on had given Lymm a rare opportunity to attack and winger, Matthew Barnes-Smith kicked on with Browne in pursuit. The winger’s pace was taking him further and further clear but Browne’s doggedness prevented him from pausing to try and gather the ball. When he eventually did try to pick it up, an unlucky bounce took it into touch. Browne’s determination epitomized his own and the Harrogate team’s commitment.
Harrogate’s Nathan Smith was then yellow carded for a technical offence and Lymm opted for a scrum against the 7 man Harrogate pack. Harrogate won good turnover ball and attacked again from deep. However the ball was spilled and Joe Knowles, Lymm’s full back sprinted clear to score. A big Irvine break then set up a try for Steve Maycock to restore the home 42 points lead before Smith came back from the bin.
The game’s final score came from substitute back, Mike Aspinall who dummied his way through for a fine converted try. At the very end, Smith ensured that he’d be remembered for something other than his sin binning. A powerful run out of defence featured an elephantine side step which will be remembered for a long time.
Denton, Wackett, Dench, Bottomley, Audsley-Beck, Irvine, Wickham, Metcalfe, Yorke, Browne, Harvey, J Brady, Wilson, Smith, Heaton, Aspinall, Maycock, S Brady.
Knowles, Barnes-Smith, Emmitt, Mullarkey, Nolan, Bray, Baker, Ashton, Allen, Widdrington, Darbyshire, Williams, Higginson, Oakes, Bray, Kinsey, Rees, Reay
Andrew McNeaney (SE Division)