Aspinall: Time for Harrogate to spoil the National Two North party

Callum Irvine scored a try on Saturday (Richard Bown)
Callum Irvine scored a try on Saturday (Richard Bown)

Harrogate director of rugby Mike Aspinall believes his squad are close to usurping the top clubs in National Two North.

Gate put up a hardy display in defeat at league leaders Hull Ionians on Saturday, but Aspinall said the 29-14 scoreline reflected there wasn’t a huge gulf in class between the teams.

This Saturday, Harrogate welcome old foes Chester to Claro Road (kick-off 2pm) – the side they battled for promotion against in National Three North two years ago.

Like Hull, Chester have their own aspirations to go up this season and they sit four places above Gate in fourth. But Aspinall said it was about time his side spoilt someone’s party.

He said: “We are in a poition where we are really snapping at the heels of the top sides. This weekend is a great opportunity for us to take one of those scalps. That’s something the players are hungry for.

“Chester are a club that are set up with ambitions of going to National One. We would love to spoil that party for them.”

Chris Wilson will return to the Gate starting line-up against Chester after Gate struggled to retain ball in the line-out in Saturday’s defeat.

However, Aspinall does not envisage many changes after matching up to the “best pack in the league” admirably last weekend.

Hull raced into a 17-point lead early on but tries from Willem Enslin and star back Callum Irvine narrowed the advantage to three.

However, the home side re-took the initiative with a penalty try before Jon Steel squeezed over for the game’s final score.

“There wasn’t a massive difference between us. They were just better at sustaining pressure on us,” added Aspinall.

“We gave away 15 penalties, and that is seven or eight too many to win a competition of that standard.”