Harrogate finally broke their duck to record their first National 2 League win since 2017. Blaydon had been promoted with Harrogate from Northern Premier and the Clubs have along history of closely fought games. Today was no exception.
An early Blaydon breakdown offence was penalised and Sam Fox, in his 50th Club game, kicked Harrogate into a 3-0 lead. Blaydon countered by retaining breakdown possession and mounting steams of attacks but failed to break the home defence. Eventually, Harrogate’s defence went offside and Drew Thompson crashed over from a driving maul to make it 3-5. A terrific high ball take from Harrogate’s Declan Thompson set up home attacks and concerted driving mauls from powerful home scrums ended with a converted try from hooker Aarin Yorke.
A period of Blaydon dominance followed but Harrogate’s defence held out in spite of conceding repeated penalties. Martin Dodds eventually took a “team penalty” and was binned for 10 minutes. Veteran Harogate prop Steve Maycock featured strongly in tight and loose play as Blaydon tried to take advantage of their numerical advantage and the half time score stayed at 10-5.
With Harrogate still down to 14 men at the restart, more Blaydon attacks eventually succeeded and flanker Alex Charlton drove over for a try converted by John Clarkson. Blaydon were now 10-12 ahead but Harrogate upped their game for the rest of the match with telling contributions from Maycock, Fox, Dodds and replacement scrum half, Phil Wickham. When Blaydon’s Mike Newstead was yellow carded, Harrogate took immediate advantage with driving mauls and Fox latched on to quick ball for a converted try to make it 17-12 with half an hour remaining.
This turned out to be the final score but the match was by no means over. The Blaydon pressure increased but it was contained by Harrogate defence, winning turnover ball from which counter attacks were mounted. In the dying minutes, Blaydon’s continued to exert pressure but Harrogate consistently won crucial turnovers which kept Blaydon out
Doherty, Graham, Knowles, Cummings, Edwards, Fox, Keith, Baxter, Yorke, Dennis, Hannam, Brady, Martin Dodds, G Coser, Declan Thompson. Subs:- Maycock, Larder, Lansdall, Wickham, Mercer
Bailey, Richards, Cooney, Greenlaw, Appleton, Ashman, Clarkson, Alex Dodds, Newstead,
Drew Thompson, Wright Laughlin, Charlton, Harrison, Clarke. Subs:- Gray, Beattie, Inglis, Cooper, Devereux
Pete Conor (RFU)
Star Man—Martin Dodds (Harrogate)
Tries–Yorke 27, Brady 55
Conversions—Fox 27 and 56
Tries–Dodds 19, Charlton 45