Aspinall: Third place still realistic dream for Harrogate

Harrogate celebrating one of their tries on Saturday (Richard Bown)
Harrogate celebrating one of their tries on Saturday (Richard Bown)

Mike Aspinall says Harrogate rugby’s top three aspirations remain a realistic proposition despite his side falling to a fourth straight defeat.

For the second week running Harrogate lost by a single point when Broadstreet stole a 22-21 victory at Claro Road on Saturday. It meant the club have gone over a month without a win, and have dropped to sixth in the National Two North table with seven fixtures remaining.

The gap to Chester in third was stretched to seven points, with the west coast outfit beating Gate’s weekend opponents Preston Grasshoppers on Saturday. But, with a game at Chester remaining, Aspinall has not given up hope of obtaining a top three finish.

He said: “We didn’t become a bad team in the last couple of weeks. It’s just not going our way. We will be endeavouring to put that right as soon as possible. We are not changing our goals, third place is still in reach.”

A high penalty cost injury-strewn Gate victory against a Broadstreet side firmly placed in mid-table.

Despite out-tryscoring the opposition, Aspinall’s Cockerels were penalised 17 times by referee Matt Turvey, and Broadstreet kicked five attempts through the sticks.

Gate had started in attacking fashion, and Aspinall, who has had to get his boots on due to fly-half Callum Irvine’s injury, kicked through for James Morland to score in the corner.

A Joe Rowntree penalty extended the lead but Broadstreet penalties closed the gap.

Danny Matthews then scored an unconverted try following a five metre scrum but a Broadstreet penalty brought the lead down to four points at the break.

Harrogate forward Tom Harvey then scored his first try for the club in his 90th game to extend the advantage. However, Broadstreet kicker Ben Palmer whittled the lead down with two more penalties.

An offside offence led to Rowntree extending the home lead but Harrogate were then penalised for crossing in what was almost Broadstreet’s first visit into the home 22.

‘Street set up driving mauls and were awarded a penalty try which also resulted in a yellow card for Andy Boyde. The conversion gave Broadstreet their single point lead and was the final score of the match.

On the game, Aspinall said: “Somehow it’s more devastating to lose by a point than 20, but I know which scoreline I prefer.

“It’s important to keep it in perspective of where we are. But, for me and the team, we will look at these game as ones we should have won, and ones we expected to.”

Ahead of the trip to Grasshoppers, Aspinall added: “We are going to put out another team that will be very capable of going and getting a win.

“I don’t want the team looking for excuses. The team we put out, we expect high standards from.”