Injury-time try condemns Harrogate to defeat

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Harrogate RUFC hearts were broken on Saturday, as an injury-time try and conversion handed visiting Luctonians a 19-16 win.

Harrogate led throughout the match and it had been a contest between the dominant Luctonians’ scrum and Harrogate’s more inventive back play.

The visitors were awarded several late penalties but needed more than three points so they opted for a scrum on each occasion. Eventually, space was created for winger, Will Richards, who dived over for the winning score with John Morris adding the conversion.

Harrogate played the first half with a strong wind behind them but struggled to take full advantage of the conditions.

However, quick line-out ball resulted in a constructive back move and Callum Irvine squeezed over to score in the left corner.

It had been all Harrogate up to this stage but Luctonians’ power play brought them more into the game and No8, Paul Hulland, drove over to equalize from the back of a powerful scrum.

Harrogate continued to mount attacks for the rest of the half but good Luctonians defence kept them at bay and they only managed 2 Irvine penalty goals from offside offences. The 11-5 half time lead did not seem to be anything like enough since they’d have to face a strong second half wind.

However, Harrogate turned on the pressure and played inspired, committed rugby in the second half. A yellow card for visiting flanker, Bruce Thomas, gave Harrogate a vital edge in a driving maul and James Tyson drove over to increase the lead on his first team debut. With 9 minutes of normal time remaining, Luctonians mounted a series of driving mauls and prop, Anthony Marfell, burst through to score. Morris’s conversion took them to within 4 points of Harrogate.

Then came the Luctonians injury time coup de grace. Harrogate still didn’t give in and came very close to restoring their lead with incisive attacking rugby but the Luctonian’s defence just managed to keep them out.

Harrogate: Smithies, Ellison, Bottomley, Gemmell, Irvine, Aspinall, Wickham, Bergmanas, Maycock (Yorke 73), Fraser (Browne 57), Harvey, S Brady (J Brady 70), Heaton, Tyson, Hannan (Beaumont 73)

Luctonians: Hodnett, Richards, Morris, James, Norris, Burton, Prior (Silver 44), Marfell, G Thomas (D Garner 51), R Jones (K Garner 60), Davidson, Graulich (Bufton 75), B Thomas, Roy-Smith (S Jones 70), Hulland