After significant rainfall on Friday, the pitch passed its early Saturday (Saturday 21 October 2023) morning inspection, being described as “muddy but playable”. Despite this, both sides produced some enterprising rugby as Harrogate extended their winning streak.
With the match beginning with the sun peeking through the clouds, Gate got off to a fast start. Forward power saw Jacob Percival go over in the 4th minute for a try that Rory Macnab converted.
Pontefract ran the ball back and got their reward with a Liam Kaye penalty in the 10th minute.
Gate’s response was to extend their lead in the 13th minute. The ball went left and Jack Haydock completed the move, going over for a converted try.
However, Pontefract displayed grit and endeavour, and no little forward power of their own. In the 27th minute, they won yet another lineout, peeled off the back and Sam Millard went over for the try that Kaye converted. Then, in the 37th minute, they got within one point when Kaye kicked his second penalty.
At this stage, the game could have gone either way, but Gate ensured they went into the break in the lead. On the stroke of half-time, Gate pressure on the Pontefract line saw Sam Brady drive over. With Rory Macnab converting, Harrogate led 21 – 13.
At the start of the second half, Tom Steene caught a high ball and Gate moved the ball right. Conor Miller kicked through; Dylan Gray showed speed and gathered his own subtle kick to go over for his first try for the Club and Gate’s bonus point score. Unfortunately, the conversion was missed.
Pontefract did not give up, and would have crossed in the right-hand corner but for a knock-on at the end of the move.
A spate of yellow cards then followed. Firstly Pete Olley became the first Harrogate player to go to the bin, and then Pontefract saw cards for Tim Pickersgill and Ethan Potts. During the period when Pontefract were at less than full strength, Rory Macnab kicked two penalties to take the score out to 32 – 13.
Harrogate’s final yellow card came with 5 minutes to go when Will Pritchard, who had only just returned to the pitch, was sent to the bin.
Pontefract finished the game on top. An identical move in the final minute to that that had brought their first try saw Sam Millard cross again. Liam Kaye converted before the final whistle was blown.
There is no match next week as the game takes a break for the Rugby World Cup Final. Harrogate returns to action on Saturday 4 November with a trip to second-placed York, kick-off at 3pm.
Harrogate: Macnab, Evans, Miller, Kaisia, Haydock, Steene, Olley, Percival, Gray, Peace, Pritchard, Brady (c), Phipps, Dodds, Hill. Replacements: Richardson, Richmond, Fox.
Pontefract: Tucker, Milthorpe, Harris, Spears, Ketteridge, Kaye (c), Wollaston, Stuart, Pickersgill, Hough, Mathews, Rogers, Nyanjowa, Harrison, Millard. Replacements: Potts, Beddis, Fenton.
Referee: Kristian Garland (Yorkshire Society)
22 October 2023