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A spate of injuries in the backs led to Harrogate blooding someyoung players all of whom acquitted themselves well. Nevertheless, the lack of experience told at crucial times and a late Luctonians converted try gained them a 1 point lead. An injury time penalty gave Callum Irvine a chance to put Harrogate back in front but he narrowly missed a very difficult, long range kick.
Harrogate ran Luctonians ragged for the first 5 minutes with good ball retention setting up a series of attacks. Flanker, Rob Adair was well to the fore supported by Tom Harvey and Tim Heaton. Half backs, Phil Wickham & Irvine orchestrated brilliantly with Sam Bottomley a constant threat in the centre. An Irvine penalty kick punished a home offside offence to put Harrogate into a 0-3 lead.
Luctonians fought back and, when Harrogate went offside, a Geraint Langdon penalty drew them level. The Harrogate pack then had the home side reeling with concerted drives and, when they desperately went offside, another Irvine penalty restored the Harrogate lead. More Harrogate attacks followed but a midfield knock created loose ball and Luctonians centre, Jimmy Norris snapped it up to race through for a converted try.
Harrogate were soon ahead again. Excellent turnover ball led to a counter attack which Lucs halted illegally. A quickly taken Wickham penalty was carried on by Irvine who created space for Harry Parrish to score under the posts. Minutes later, Luctonians regained the lead and Brett Priors opportunistic try came from yet another Harrogate knock-on.
Wickham set up a dazzling counter attack from a Harrogate strike against the head but the referee accidentally blocked what looked like a scoring pass and the opportunity was lost. The exciting attacking rugby continued from both sides until an Assistant Referee intervention led to 2 home players leaving the field. Hooker George Thomas was yellow carded for punching while Tom Dines was red carded for allegedly gouging. In spite of being down to 13 men, Luctonians increased their lead just before half time when a Langdon penalty punished a Harrogate offside offence.
The second half opened with a searing Bottomley break but the try scoring opportunity was lost by yet another Harrogate knock-on. Another attack was then set up from a Harrogate line-out steal. Bottomley again made the initial break which was carried on by Adair. Luctonians went offside and Irvines kick made it 18-16. Harrogate scrum pressure led to the ball shooting out of the home back row but Harrogate were inexplicably penalised for supposedly breaking early. Oli Denton then set up a counter attack from deep and Lucs were penalised for holding on in the tackle zone. Wickham tapped and ran, the ball was spun left and Chris Wilson crashed over in the corner. Irvines excellent conversion made it 18-23 but Lucs soon got back in front when a good midfield build up ended with a fine try from Drew Cheshire.
Then it was Harrogate who edged back into a one point lead from an Irvine penalty. The lead was further extended when replacement 2nd Row, James Spencer made a powerful midfield charge. Quickly recycled ball led to an Andy Boyde try and it was 25-31 with 10 minutes remaining.
However, that was as good as it got for Harrogate. A badly missed tackle at the end enabled Alex Rumsey to cross the line and run behind the posts to give Langdon a simple conversion.
Meredith, Cheshire, Rumsey, Norris, Langdon, Prior, Roy-Smith, Marfell, Thomas, Jones, Davidson, Dines, Talbot, Hackley, Hulland
Denton, Parrish, Edwards, Bottomley, L Minikin (Rowntree 58), Irvine, Wickham (Matthews 62), Boyde, Maycock (Yorke 56), Metcalfe (Reaveley 80), J Brady, Wilson, Harvey (Spencer 62), Adair, Heaton
Luke Haskins (RFU)