Weekend rugby: Harrogate claw their way back to beat Caldy

hsb  Gate v Preston Grasshoppers.  (120317M4a)
hsb Gate v Preston Grasshoppers. (120317M4a)
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HARROGATE gave their hopes of beating relegation a shot in the arm on Saturday, beating high-flying Caldy 25-24 with the last kick of the game.

The Claro Road men had, before the game, resided in the third National Two North relegation spot and desperately needed to to stand any chance of beating the drop.

A 90-5 defeat for Otley at Preston Grasshoppers means Harrogate and Otley are now level on points with two weeks of the season remaining.

Harrogate face a trip to relegated Kendal this Saturday, and a hosting of Leicester Lions after that.

A win on Saturday for relegation rivals Leicester means Harrogate’s fate could yet come down to the final day.

But the weekend’s victory over Caldy does stand them in good stead for a great escape.

It was by no means pretty, Harrogate were behind for virtually all of the game and had to retrieve a nine-point defecit.

They suffered a dreadful start to the contest.

A chargedown on a Dickie Davies clearance kick by Caldy’s Dominic Kohler, saw the visiting fly half held up over the line.

But then Caldy shipped the ball wide and with an overlap on the left, Adam Barnish barged over.

Caldy kept pressure on with a penalty by Gavin Roberts, after Harrogate came in at the side.

Fortunately, like his previous conversion attempt, his aim was miles off and the score remained 5-0.

Harrogate finally got into Caldy’s 22 with a Jack Latus penalty after Caldy strayed offside, but it fell just short.

Harrogate won another penalt but the referee played advantage, and the hosts finally began to run the ball.

Another Caldy infringment for offside handed Latus another kick, right in front of the sticks, and he made no mistake in the 18th minute to narrow the gap to 3-5.

And a further spell of wonderful Harrogate passing had the Caldy defence in disarray.

Quick hands, firstly through Davis and then full back Ed Smithies, saw the ball shipped wide to wing Chris Gemmell, and then a pass to prop Jimmy Browne saw him power over.

Latus added the conversion and ‘Gate were 10-5 ahead.

But Caldy hit back, taking advantage of Harrogate’s slow counter attack. When Smithies lost possession in the tackle, the ball spun out, meaning Caldy number 8 Josiah Dickinson shot through a yawning gap to touch down unopposed.

Roberts added the conversion, and Caldy were back in front at 10-12 by the break.

Two errors had cost Harrogate 12 points in a largely even first half.

But Caldy punished Harrogate once again just four minutes into the second after Harrogate were penalised for crossing.

After an attacking lineout, a super break and great pass from Shaun Woof put Roberts into space for an easy try out wide, after he weaved past Smithies.

Roberts missed the chance to convert his own try, but Caldy were now 17-10 in front.

Harrogate refused to lie down and pressured hard from a series of driving mauls five metres out.

They brought on Andy Fraser and Sam Brady in the midst of this pressure, and finally got their reward.

Getting on the end of a massive drive, Ryan Peacey rampaged across again despite carrying two tacklers with him.

Latus was just wide with the conversion, but Harrogate had narrowed the gap to two points once again.

But after a good spell of keeping the ball in hand, another kick over the top by Davis gifted the ball back to Caldy.

Then a woeful missed tackle by Gemmell allowed Roberts to dart through a yawning gap, and cross the line for his second try and a bonus point by scoring Caldy’s fourth.

His conversion was a formality, and Caldy were 15-24 ahead.

Their ability to constantly run on to the ball at pace was proving an unbeatable combination.

An injured Davies made way for Scotland U-18s fly half Callum Irvine with around 12 minutes to go.

Now two scores behind Harrogate gradually got downfield, and having opened up some space around 10 metres out, Irvine delivered a perfectly weighted pass for Sam Bottomley to run on to.

But he mistimed it and the scoring chance was gone.

Caldy then lost prop Derek Salisbury to the bin after the visitors were penalised once again, handing Latus a kick pushed forward 10 metres for Salisbury’s complaints, with five minutes on the clock.

It reduced the deficit to 18-24, giving Harrogate a shot at picking up a much-needed bonus point, if not more.

It inspired them to keep pushing, and push they did, as prop Aarin Yorke was held up over the line, and Harrogate won a five-metre scrum to give themselves a lifeline.

A tremendous push set Peacey free and his pass allowed centre Kyle Dench to stretch across the line,

Latus tagged the straightforward conversion to snatch it at the death, and spark understandable celebrations with a 25-24 victory.

National Two North

Harrogate: Smithies, Latus, Dench, Bottomley, Gemmell; Davies (Irvine 68), Wickham; Bergmanas (Fraser 49), Maycock (Aarin Yorke 68), Browne, Harvey, Brady (J Brady 49), Heaton, Tyson, Peacey; Beaumont.

Caldy: Soutar, Eaves, Roberts, Woof (Vasey 62), Barnish, Kohler, Broxson (Smith 70), Parker (P Doolan 62), Dowridge, Salisbury, Sewell, Collister, Aigbokhae, Bansor, Dickinson