Rugby Union: Harrogate 12-24 Stourbridge | Abject ‘Gate fall to second straight defeat in National Two North

Callum Irvine suffered defeat on his 100th appearance for Harrogate
Callum Irvine suffered defeat on his 100th appearance for Harrogate

Harrogate RUFC crashed to a second successive home defeat in an abject display against perennial high-fliers Stourbridge 24-12 at Rudding Lane.

Harrogate got off to the best possible start with a converted try within two minutes of kick-off.

From a ruck on the Stourbridge 22, the back line spread the left and hooker Aarin Yorke found enough space to finish in the corner. Lewis Minikin completed an excellent touchline conversion.

The Harrogate pack also won the first scrum battle, with a giant surge forcing a penalty.

However, without the power of WIllem Enslin and the flair of Sam Bottomley in their side, ‘Gate began to concede space and needless penalties to their opponents, who duly took advantage with four tries in 14 minutes.

The first came from a heavy driving maul, which Joe Bridger supported and crossed the whitewash.

Harrogate were without the services of Sam Bottomley

Harrogate were without the services of Sam Bottomley

Harrogate managed to reclaim the restart with an excellent take from Andy Boyde, but the move ended in a Stourbridge score when Lewis Minikin’s pass wide was read. Josh Trinham stole the ball and outpaced the ‘Gate defence to score a second unconverted try with a 60-yard break.

The ‘Bridge pressure was relentless and went against the form of two back-to-back defeats that they carried into the contest. However, they were missing opportunities from Harrogate’s ill-discipline at the break down, with fly-hall Chris Scott’s spraying goal kick attempts left and right of the post.

Shortly they were ten points to the good as experienced scrum half Toby Handley finished off a well drilled move under the posts, which Scott this time converted.

The visitors took a 17-point advantage into the interval when centre Joe Heatley found another hole in the ‘Gate defensive shape to cross over, and Scott added the two.

Harrogate were much improved in the second half, with their forward line starting to gain a foothold in the game.

However, the red and black shirts were unable to turn their possession into points.

Their only score came when replacement hooker Tom Larder raced over in the corner, following a quick change of direction by Danny Matthews at an an attacking line-out.

Replacement back Cam Leadley thought he had brought the scores closer when he beat two men to touch down on the right wing, but play was pulled back for a forward pass.

‘Gate’s forwards also went close to scoring in the final ten minutes but were again halted by the referee’s whistle with Stourbridge awarded a penalty at the breakdown.

o Read Thursday’s Harrogate Advertiser for a full match report, analysis and reaction.

o Visit the Harrogate Advertiser Sport Facebook page to watch a interview with fly-half Callum Irvine, who celebrated his 100th appearance for Harrogate on Saturday.