HARROGATE endured a 38-12 defeat down in Herefordshire on Saturday, against hosts Luctonians.
A faultless Joe Rowntree kicking display kept Harrogate very much in contention until half time. But after that, Luctonians’ power and better game management swept them into an imperious victory by five tries to none.
After two minutes, over ambitious, wide passing from Harrogate in their own 22, led to an interception and a smartly taken try from home winger, Will Hodnett. This almost happened several more times during the game as Harrogate persisted with this tactic and Luctonians’ pressure defence managed to satisfy the referee that they weren’t offside.
Rowntree then stroked over a penalty from almost half way but the home winning margin was restored when Harrogate offended at a scrum and John Morris kicked a straightforward three points. Lucs were then penalised for crossing and another Rowntree kick edged Harrogate closer.
They then took the lead when Lucs went offside and Rowntree landed a prodigious 55 metre effort from the touchline.
For the next 15 minutes, the big home pack then battered at Harrogate but they were held out by some strong defence including big hits from Steve Maycock and Harry Hannan. Harrogate’s forwards also tested the Lucs defence with powerful runs from Hannan, Tim Heaton and Jake Brady.
The Harrogate line-out had been functioning well but they then lost crucial possession at the rear and the home stand off, Will Burton shimmied through for a try to restore their lead. Hodnett was then sin binned for an illegal tackle and Rowntree kicked another penalty for Harrogate. On the stroke of half time, Harrogate possession was turned over and they went offside in an attempt to recover the situation. Morris duly pocketed the 3 points to make the half time score 18-12.
This still seemed to be a game that Harrogate could win though an early Morris penalty widened the gap a bit more. Harrogate’s Ed Smithies was then surprisingly adjudged to have deliberately knocked on and Lucs set up an attacking line-out from the subsequent penalty. Replacement flanker, Nathan Roy-Smith drove over to score a converted try.
Harrogate continued to attempt wide attacking rugby but, although they made progress, the Lucs defence restricted them to doing this in midfield. Ryan Peacey replaced Sam Brady in the second row but was soon unluckily yellow carded for over vigorous play. Shortly afterwards, Hannan was binned for “verbals” and Luctonians clinically took advantage of the two extra men. Will Richards took the scoring pass from a well constructed backs move and prop forward, Anthony Marfell, drove over for the final try of the match
Luctonians: Meredith, Morris, Richards, James (Robinson 47), Hodnett, Burton, Bennett (L Roy-Smith 49), Marfell, Garner (Street 46), Jones, Davidson, Jaques, Graulich (N Roy-Smith 48), James (Robinson 47), Hulland
Harrogate: Smithies, Minikin (Birdsall 73), Edwards, Quarendon, Rowntree, Irvine, Wickham, Bergmanas, Maycock (Yorke 59), Innes (Fraser 46), J Brady, S Brady (Peacey 55), Wilson (Maud 59), Heaton, Hannan