Saturday 2 September 2023
Harrogate’s first game back at Level 5 of the RFU pyramid in Regional 1 – North East saw the team produce a fine all-round performance, earning a well-deserved victory away at Driffield.
Driffield started in the ascendency that Gate’s defence weathered. Then, in the 9th minute, from a penalty advantage, Tom Steene executed a pin-point accurate cross-field kick. Orisi Katalau, on his debut, caught the ball and ran in unopposed for Harrogate’s first try. Rory Macnab converted to put 7 points to the good.
As would be expected from a side that finished 3rd in this league last season, Driffield responded. Having been held up over the line in the 15th minute, Driffield won the ensuing scrum and no 8 Johnson drove over. Kalani Grant converted to level the scores.
Undeterred, Gate attacked and only a forward pass prevented a further score. However, following a Macnab successful 50:22 kick, Gate eventually won a penalty in Driffield’s 22 when they played the no 9, Pete Olley, illegally at a ruck. Rory Macnab kicked the 3 points to restore the lead.
Gate’s discipline was then strongly tested as several penalties were conceded, culminating in a yellow card to Jacob Percival for a technical offence. Despite being numerically disadvantaged, Gate’s excellent defence kept Driffield out, and only a wayward pass following a Sam Fox break prevented Gate going further ahead.
On the stroke of half-time, Gate conceded a further penalty which Kalani Grant kicked to level the scores at 10 apiece, and set up an intriguing second half.
This saw both sides produce some enterprising open play, but defences initially held firm. Then, in the 52nd minute, following a bout of kicking tennis, Tom Steene produced a spiral kick that took play into Driffield’s 22. Several plays later, Driffield conceded a penalty that Rory Macnab converted.
The re-start went straight into touch on the full. Gate scrummaged on the halfway, and eventually broke down the right, with Rory Macnab going through to score a try, which he converted.
The final 20 minutes again saw play becoming open as efforts were made to get back into/close out the game. However, both sides made mistakes and there were no further scores as Harrogate ran out deserved winners.
Next week’s game, Saturday 9 September, may be a tougher affair given that it is against Heath, who finished 2nd in the league last season. Kick off at Rudding Lane is 3pm. We look forward to seeing as many supporters, old and new, as possible.
Driffield: Pratt, Robinson, Rowbottom, Sowersby, Short, Murray, Grant K, Thundercliffe, Pettinger, McKinnon, Falkingham, Grant H, Brankley A (c), Mewburn, Johnson. Replacements: Robson, Rodmell, Brankley T.
Harrogate: Macnab, Katalau, Miller E, Fox, Miller C, Steene, Olley, Percival, Maycock, Peace, Pritchard, Brady (c), Leatham, Dodds M, Hill. Replacements: Coser, Ridgway, Yates.
Referee: Adam Robson (Yorkshire Society)
3 September 2023