Junior graduates pave way for Harrogate glory

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Harrogate director of rugby Mike Aspinall believes the club has an “exciting” future despite the cloud surrounding Harrogate Pythons at Claro Road.

Nine former junior players featured in Harrogate’s 25-15 victory at Preston Grasshoppers on Saturday.

Tries from Lewis Minikin, Danny Matthews, Callum Irvine earned Gate the convincing win.

Joe Rowntree also slotted over a penalty and two conversion and Irvine kicked a drop goal.

The victory maintained Gate’s push for a top six spot in National Two North, as they lie six points behind Birmingham Solihull.

Flanker Steve Dewsnip, another to have progressed through the Harrogate Colts ranks, made his debut in the trip.

And Aspinall, who missed the trip west through illness, said it was proof the club’s policy of developing youth was paying off.

Aspinall said: “There’s a lot to be excited about at the club.

“There’s not many teams that would boast nine former youth players in their team.

“The budget of the rugby club not being great, that’s something that we have to be proactive about and develop the younger players. Without it, there’s no sustainability with Harrogate at National Two level.

“When you look at the club’s future, with the move to Rudding Lane, I do hope that in years to come we would have a much improved budget.

“We have the second worst budget in National Two North. The only team with a worse budget haven’t won a game all year.”

The first team are without a league match this weekend, and Aspinall confirmed players short of match practice could feature in the Georgians’ home clash against Driffield.

Gate have yet to announce when club members will discuss whether the Pythons will stay a part of the Claro Road club.

The Yorkshire Three outfit split from Harrogate in 2005 but remain affiliated and play their home games at Claro Road.

As the club ply their trade in the Yorkshire League, players are not able to switch between the Pythons and Harrogate squads.

Aspinall said he wanted a “clear picture” to emerge when discussions ended.

“We need to gain real clarity about what Harrogate Rugby Club is about,” he said.

“If you create a very clear picture of what Harrogate Rugby Club is, you do find people buy into that and support it a lot more easily.

“It will be clear what they would be supporting.”

Read the match report from Harrogate’s 25-15 win at Preston online at www.harrogateadvertiser.co.uk/sport