Harrogate got back to winning ways in National Two North on Saturday, beating Dudley Kingswinford 47-22 away from home.
DK’s close contact skills won them valuable first half ball and gave them a narrow 17-14 lead at the interval.
Thereafter, Harrogate’s superior fitness prevailed and their attacking brand of rugby was just too much for the workmanlike Midland side.
An early home turnover resulted in a scoring opportunity for right winger Oyekan but he spilled the ball when almost clear.
Shortly afterwards, DK set up a series of forward drives from yet another turnover. This time the ball was spun left and winger Marshall touched down in the corner.
DK’s attempts to build on this early lead were thwarted by the resolute Harrogate defence.
Kyle Dench’s welcome return from injury added bite to Harrogate’s midfield and some thumping tackles drove DK backwards.
A long home clearance kick was fielded by Oli Denton whose gliding pace set up a counter attack.
Harrogate crossed the line after a series of driving mauls but the ball was adjudged to have been held up.
However, scrum half Danny Matthews scampered over from the resulting 5 metre scrum and Joe Rowntree’s conversion put Harrogate ahead.
More Harrogate attacks followed with Luke Edwards looking particularly dangerous. Another home turnover gave Oyekan another scoring opportunity but, again, his hands let him down.
Harrogate set up a counter attack from deep but a wild pass lost them possession and desperate defence led to them being penalised for “hands in”. Pinches’ penalty goal put DK 8-7 ahead.
Another silky Denton break set up a counter attack and quickly recycled ball led to a backs move.
Flanker, Aarin Yorke supported well and his pass gave Edwards a converted try. DK responded with a driving maul and a Harrogate offence was penalised. Pinches’s penalty made it 11-14 and he soon made it 14-14 when an almost identical Harrogate offence was penalised.
Yorke consistently won Harrogate possession with terrier-like work on the floor but another wild midfield pass allowed DK to counter attack and Harrogate went offside. Pinches’s kick gave DK their interval lead.
Strong words were spoken in the Harrogate dressing room at half time and the forwards came out firing on all cylinders. Powerful drives from Tim Heaton, Nathan Smith, Jake Brady, Tom Harvey and Steve Maycock tore holes in the home defence.
The ball was moved left for Rowntree to cross over in the corner and restore Harrogate’s lead. More abrasive forward play was supported by an incisive Dench break and Matthews was on hand to score a converted try and earn the valuable bonus point.
Attempts to “nullify” Dench illegally resulted in a yellow card for a home flanker but Harrogate failed to score during his 10 minutes absence. Midway through the half, Rowntree made a dazzling break from quick, set piece ball. Well constructed back play continued the move and the ever present Yorke was there to take the scoring pass.
Rowntree’s conversion finished the move which he had instigated.
DK never gave up and their powerful pack continued to try to drive Harrogate backwards.
After a series of drives, Scrivens burst through to add what proved to be their final score of the match. Waves of Harrogate attacks followed and Edwards was tackled on the goal line when a try seemed certain.
Replacement second row, James Spencer was then put clear 10 metres from the line.
The excitement was too much for him and he dropped the ball.
Harrogate pressure continued and Matthews capped an excellent performance with a hat trick try.
Rowntree converted and also added the extra points when Edwards scored his second try after another high octane backs move.
Harrogate: Denton, Parrish, Dench, Edwards, L Minikin (N Minikin 61), Rowntree, Matthews (Lloyd 70). Metcalfe (Musetti 70), Maycock, Reaveley (Browne 40), Brady, Harvey, Smith, Yorke (Spencer 70), Heaton
Referee: Graham Dickens (RFU)