Harrogate rugby

Sandal 20 Harrogate 22

15 January 2024

Saturday 13 January 2024

Having the game postponed last week, Harrogate’s first venture of 2024 was to Sandal, coming away with a fortunate victory.

Harrogate started positively playing with the benefit of the slope. Rory Macnab broke through from halfway before being tackled just short of the Sandal line. Will Hill was then on hand to put Gate 5 – 0 up with just over a minute gone, though the conversion was missed.

Two minutes later, Sandal had a penalty chance to get on the scoreboard. Confusion abounded when a touch judge’s flag was raised, the score announcer gave the penalty and the score was registered on the board. However, referee Matthew Higgins, who had an excellent game, correctly ruled the kick had missed so the score remained 5 – 0 to Harrogate.

Macnab had another mesmerising run that took play into Sandal’s 22, but a knock-on halted the move. However, forward pressure eventually saw Gate cross the tryline, but with the ball being held up, a goal-line drop out resulted.

On 15 minutes, Sandal broke up hill and kicked through. Gate’s defence did not deal with it appropriately – a clearance kick was charged down culminating in Gate taking the ball over their own try line for a Sandal 5-metre scrum. They won the ball, moved it left and Will Henshaw crossed for a try that Jake Adams converted to put Sandal in the lead.

Gate continued to pressure but did not have the scoring edge. The only opportunity coming from a missed penalty in the 28th minute.

Shortly after, Tom Steene broke through the middle, but a Sandal interception in their own 22 enabled them to clear into Gate’s half. This incursion eventually saw Gate concede another 5-metre scrum from their own tryline, following which Tom Hodson scored Sandal’s second try, but was unable to convert.

With 2 minutes left of the half, Gate kicked through but the ball was knocked-on in going over the line, enabling Sandal to clear. However, they were reduced to 14 men when, with time running out in the half, and Harrogate running the ball down the right-hand side, an attempted interception resulted in a knock-on that meant a yellow card under the regulations as Gate had an overlap on the outside.

Nonetheless, the half-time score remained 12 – 7 to Sandal.

Gate started the second half in a similar fashion to the first. Richard Kaisia broke in midfield and two passes later, Ewan Evans scored in the right-hand corner. Macnab’s conversion hit the crossbar leaving Gate two points behind.

Both sides then traded 50-22s, but neither could take advantage. However, Sandal’s pressure saw Luke Adams go over for an unconverted try in the 53rd minute.

Gate’s response saw them held up over the line again, with a further goal-line drop out ensuing. They continued to attack, but strong Sandal defence kept them out. However, in the 66th minute, a long miss-pass in midfield put Evans free on the right wing, who then off-loaded inside for debutant Kodie Brook to score Harrogate’s third try, but the conversion was again unsuccessful.

Sandal responded with a Tom Hodson penalty in the 73rd minute. However, when they conceded a penalty for a high tackle, Tom Steene took Gate 5 metres from the Sandal line. Winning the ball, Gate’s forward pressure saw Harry Butler go over for the bonus point try. Rory Macnab’s successful conversion gave Harrogate a 2-point lead with 4 minutes to go.

With time virtually up, Gate conceded a penalty to give Sandal the opportunity to win the match at the death. This was from a similar position from which he had previously been successful, but unfortunately for him, Tom Hodson pushed this one wide, enabling Harrogate to escape with the win.

Harrogate return to action next week with the rearranged fixture against Doncaster Phoenix. Kick off at Rudding Lane is 2pm.


Sandal: Hodson, Grainger, Adams J, Adams L, Shamchiyev, Macgregor, Francis, Hodgkiss, Booth, Holland, Thompson, Garrity, Milner, Henshall, Stewart (c). Replacements: Beeney, Ward, Allen.

Harrogate: Macnab, Evans, Brook, Kaisia, Adamson, Steene, Olley, Butler, Maycock, Percival, Pritchard, Brady (c), Richardson, Dodds, Hill. Replacements: Wickham, Leatham, Coser.

Referee: Matthew Higgins (Yorkshire Society)

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