Harrogate recorded their first win of the season after an excitingly close match.
They were 14 points clear at the start of the first quarter but finished up with only 13 fit players on the field and having to defend for their lives.
Hull attacked strongly from the start but were well contained by the Harrogate defence, marshalled by Sam Bottomley. After 5 minutes, it was a searing Bottomley midfield break which led to the first try. He was well supported and the ball was quickly recycled to Tim Heaton who crashed over to score a try converted by Joe Rowntree.
Hull continued to try to take the game to Harrogate but the visitors’ defence held firm and Harrogate’s attacks were looking far more dangerous. A brilliant Oli Denton run from deep saw him scythe through despairing tackles and touch down under the posts for another converted try.
Harrogate made a mess of the Hull restart and a series of fumbles led to them being penalised for supposedly coming in from the side. Greg Lound’s penalty opened Hull’s account and inspired them to mount more attacks. A Heaton offside offence in the red zone was punished by a yellow card and Hull opted for an attacking scrum against the weakened Harrogate pack. The Harrogate defence held them up over the line but, from the next scrum, Kerry Wood squirmed through for a trademark try converted by Lound.
A huge Lound line kick took Hull back into Harrogate territory and, when the visitors mounted a counter attack, they were penalised for crossing. Lound’s penalty brought the score to 13-14 but another long Denton break set up more Harrogate attacks. A scoring pass was thwarted by a deliberate knock on and, although it was penalised, there was general astonishment that a yellow card wasn’t issued. Rowntree’s kick edged Harrogate further ahead but, as half time approached, Tom Harvey was harshly adjudged to have killed Hull ball and was sent to the bin. Hull opted for a scrum and, although they put the weakened Harrogate pack under immense pressure for the remaining few minutes, the heroic defence kept them out.
Harrogate went straight back on the offensive from the restart with a series of well constructed attacks. Another incisive Denton break was followed by a searching line kick from flanker Chris Wilson which was marginally too long. Hull eventually went offside and Rowntree’s kick extended the lead. Harrogate then stole Hull line-out ball and it was quickly spun to Bottomley who burst through for a converted try.
Hull were by no means finished and replacement stand-off, James Cameron put in a searching kick which was gathered at pace by Dominic Lespierre. Cameron converted to put them within one score of Harrogate but a Hull offside offence was punished by a penalty from Harrogate’s replacement stand-off, Callum Irvine.
It wasn’t over yet. Harrogate’s Rob Adair, who had an outstanding game, was very harshly yellow carded and Cameron’s kick put Hull back within sight of a possible draw. Harrogate prop Andy Boyde, who’d also had an excellent game, then picked up a nasty injury and had to leave the field. However the gallant remaining 13 Harrogate players repelled Hull driving attacks till the final whistle.
Barnard, Piercy, Kirk, Thoy, Lespierre, Lound, Hay, Price, Kay, Stout, C Murphy, P Murphy, Sullivan, Wood, Cook, Dorrington, Johnson, Robinson-Eames, Turner, Cameron
Denton, Parrish, Edwards, Bottomley, L Minnikin, Rowntree, Matthews, Boyde, Maycock, Metcalfe, Spencer, Harvey, Wilson, Adair, Heaton, Wickham, Yorke, Musetti, Irvine, Smith
Graham Dickens (RFU)