8am Saturday morning covid call offs led to Harrogate travelling with a much-changed team. It would have been possible to seek a postponement, but they decided to bite the bullet and honour the fixture. Despite the result, great credit is due to the players who filled in at such short notice. Key front row players were missing and Loughborough were much stronger in that department than when Harrogate played them earlier in the season.
From the home start, Harrogate’s No 8, Declan Thompson gathered and made a length of the field break scattering defenders like ninepins. He was checked just short of the line but Loughborough’s defence were penalised and Harrogate went for an attacking line-out, but a knock-on ended the attack. A Harrogate scrum was penalised, Loughborough took a quick penalty and a try from centre, Sam Blade opened the scoring. This was quickly followed by a Loughborough break from defence and a Charlie Briers try converted by Tom Smith.
A huge Kit Keith clearance kick led to Loughborough’s defence going offside and a Harrogate attacking line-out. Unfortunately, the throw was adjudged to be squint, Loughborough cleared and scrum half, Charlie Briers broke from defence for a converted try.
A Dom Tydeman break was ended by a high tackle and a yellow card for home prop, Mink Scharink. Prolonged Harrogate forward drives followed with Sam Brady and Tom Baxter at the heart of everything.
A knock-on led to a home scrum and the ball being quickly spread for a converted try by Ollie Smith. A seemingly serious hand injury led to him leaving the field and Harrogate were penalised at the subsequent breakdown. A Loughborough line-out followed and, again, the ball was quickly spread for a Tom Smith try. On the stroke of half time, Briers intercepted a Harrogate pass and a forty-metre converted try followed to make it 31-0 at the break.
Harrogate’s Thompson came back after the break and, in a carbon copy of his first half opening, made another 40 metres break through the home defence. The Loughborough clearance was fumbled leading to an attacking line-out from which Jake Percival was yellow carded for a high tackle.
A home attacking line-out followed and prop, Mink Scharrink crashed over for a converted try. An even period of play followed with Harrogate forward drives pressuring the home defence.
However, a home counter attack led to another Briers converted try. A searing Ollie Smith left wing break led to the try which put Loughborough 50-0 ahead. A desperate Will Yates tackle led to him being yellow carded and Loughborough took full advantage of the situation for a final Sam Westmacott try to make it 55-0.
Heard, Warner, O’Leary-Blade, Wainwright, Walsh, T Smith, Briers, Phillipson, Harding, Scharink, Shine, Adlington, Jennings, Dick, Bloomer. Subs:- Westmacott, Toms, Longworthy, Nayor, O Smith
Raubitschek, Yates, Kennell, Tydeman, Cooke, MacNab, Keith, Percival, Garrett, Baxter, Tomalin, Brady, Seymour, Dodds, Thompson. Subs:- Hodson, Shrimpton, Steene, Cummins,
Daniel Woods (RFU)