Yorkshire Cup ‘one hell of a carrot’ for Harrogate

Harrogate Rugby v  Leicester Lions. (1412066AM3)
Harrogate Rugby v Leicester Lions. (1412066AM3)

A Yorkshire Cup victory would be the perfect impetus for Harrogate before the move to Rudding Lane next season, according to director of rugby Mike Aspinall.

Aspinall’s men will be hunting for more than just Easter eggs on Saturday when they face a county cup semi-final test against lower league Wheatley Hills.

Harrogate are seeking a tenth triumph in the competition, which Aspinall has yet to win as a player or coach.

Gate’s progression to the last four dates back to January when they won a hard-fought Yorkshire derby against Otley 20-10 in National Two North.

And, while the competition has come under the radar, Aspinall – who has yet to decide on his future at Claro Road - said his squad were hell-bent on winning it.

He said: “Our goals have always been in the league and the Yorkshire Cup has happened without anyone really noticing. All of a sudden we are in the semi-final.

“But it’s a great opportunity to get something out of our season. I would hasten to guess Wharfedale will come out of the other semi-final.

“It would be a great spectacle to be in the final against them, and a great way to lead into Rudding.”

Gate head into the game as clear favourites after recapturing their form over recent weeks to post two wins and a narrow loss at National Two North champions-elect Hull Ionians.

But despite having the favourites’ tag around their neck, Aspinall will resist the temptation to rest some of his players.

He said: “It would be very easy to take the game lightly with the opposition several divisions below but now we have momentum back, we want to keep winning.

“We won’t be taking it for granted and putting out the second team because you don’t get soft teams.

“There are a certain number of players unavailable as it was scheduled as a free week, but other than that, we will be fielding a really strong side that will be focused on getting us to that final.”

With Claro Road out of commission the tie will take place at Wetherby RUFC’s Grange Park (3pm).

Last Saturday’s clash at Chester was another example of improvement as Harrogate’s pack dominated from the first minute to turn back to Yorkshire with a 22-17 victory .

Aspinall added: “We potentially have five games to go and we want to win them all.

“If we do that, we would come close to achieving our league goal, and certainly finish in the top five.

“The Yorkshire Cup is one hell of a carrot too, so it’s looking like an exciting end of the season.”

l Read a full report of the Chester win on page 94.